1. Because i put $50 dollars on the series and am broke.
2. Oden / Pryzbilla's slow pace / inability to be athletic / have a chance against Yao Ming: These guys aren't too athletic, which means Yao doesn't have to deal with a roaming center, and fronting will be half as effective as compared to when a more athletic center hangs out in front of Yao. As a result, I see Yao averaging 24ppg this series. At least. Sure, Adelman has had his problems with getting Yao the ball, but I think he will threaten the lives of everyone on the team in the next couple days.
3. Perimeter Defense: Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Kyle Lowry > Brandon Roy, Steve Blake, Nicolas Batum, Travis Outlaw. Brandon Roy is clutch, but chances are the outcome of that game in November would've been quite different if Battier was at 100%. Kobe Bryant has proven to be the only great perimeter player who's been resistant to our two-headed monster, but i think that's only because Artest taunted him and that asshole at the New York Times gave Kobe something to really play for when the Rockets face the Lakers.
4. Bench Play: The return of Carl Landry re-energizes the Houston bench an enormous degree, especially on the offensive end. HIs hard work this season to develop a more consistent mid-range jumper has given him the ability to roam, opening up lanes for Von Wafer and Kyle Lowry. Von Wafer has been nothing short of exciting offensively, and his defensive inabilities are slowly but surely disappearing. He is also known to hit the momentum shifting / game clinching three from time to time (see: @ BOS, v. CLE). Kyle Lowry is fearless and does a pretty great job of getting to the charity stripe, and Mutombo is bound to get more minutes in the post-season, and we all saw what he did to the young guys in Oakland. . . getting the most out of the bench is going to be HUGE in this game, which takes us to another X factor: Brent Barry. He hasn't been particularly great in the regular season, but anyone who's followed basketball in the last decade knows he is clutch in the playoffs. Here's to him finding the touch in all the right moments.
5. Artest will take less contested jumpers: If there is a God, that is. . . Really Ron, I love you and this series is gonna be your ability to cement your place on this team. Time to be a leader, and not make rookie mistakes. Adelman is allegedly the snake-charmer to Artest's cobra, so lets just hope Ricky finds his flute before Saturday.
[EDIT] 6. The Blazers are not a running team. Their pace [according to nba.com] is actually 30 out of 30. This will ultimately be the undoing of Portland; Houston is 4th in the league defensively because we can dominate the slower teams with our half-court defense.
The way I see this series playing out is the Rockets stealing game 1 or 2 (and by steal i mean crush, because this team is notorious for coming back from a bad loss with a dismembering defensive assault and aggressive play), and not losing in Toyota Center. Series over in 6.