Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game preview

USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets take on the Blazers in Portland tonight in a must-win for the good guys.

Houston Rockets Tickets

This is a big one for the Rockets, because they are in Denver tomorrow against a rested Nuggets team that is on a roll. You can call that a loss right now.

Tonight's contest is up for grabs though. These teams played two close games earlier this season before the Rockets routed them in February. Now it's a big game for us but not a big one for them.

Still, they'll probably try to beat us. You know, because pride and stuff.

But never sleep on the Blazers. They've got one of the best starting lineups in basketball, even if Batum sits tonight (which seems to be the case). If the Blazers can get a bench together for next season, they're a playoff team and a team the Rockets will have some fun battles with next year.

Tip-off at 9:30pm CST, on ESPN.

Update: Well this sucks.

Other meaningful games today

New Orleans vs. Utah (8pm)

Golden State vs. Phoenix (9pm)

Dallas vs. Sacramento (9pm)

Memphis vs. Los Angeles (9:30pm)

PG: Jeremy Lin vs. Damian Lillard

Lillard is just incredible. He doesn't play like a rookie, but rather a guy who belongs in the league and is going to make his mark for years to come.

Last time we played the Blazers, I pointed out that Lillard just has the Rockets' number. The team defense has been horrible at times for the good guys, but few have truly carved up Houston like Lillard. Every one of Lillard's stats is higher against the Rockets than against every other team. EVERY SINGLE STAT.

Like I said, dude's incredible.

Advantage: Portland

SG: James Harden vs. Wesley Matthews

Unlike Lillard, Matthews seems to have issues with the Rockets. That's interesting because among all the poor defenders on the Rockets, Harden has been identified (rightly so) as the worst offender (or defender; see what I did there?).

Nevertheless, every time I see Matthews on TV he's hitting threes to win games for the Blazers, so if this game gets to squeaky bum time, Matthews has to be accounted for.

Advantage: Houston

SF: Chandler Parsons vs. Victor Claver

According to CSN Northwest, Batum is unlikely to play tonight. I'm sure he still will because he always plays well against us. He's a great player and is what Parsons could be for us in the future.

Update: Parsons is out, Francisco Garcia is in.

Advantage: Houston

PF: Greg Smith vs. LaMarcus Aldridge

LMA missed the last four Blazers games (all losses), but will be back tonight. During those four games, the Blazers lost to the Jazz twice and the Warriors.

So of course he comes back to play us. I love the Blazers, but this pisses me off to no end. Much like the Kings, the Blazers will play the Rockets tough and then tank against everyone else. This sucks, but no one said it would be easy.

Advantage: Portland

C: Omer Asik vs. J.J. Hickson

This is all Asik, though Hickson is a beast and has been a revelation this season.

Advantage: Houston

Bench:

The Blazers will trot out Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland, Luke Babbitt, Eric Maynor, Nolan Smith, and Will Barton.

The Rockets have Patrick Beverley, Carlos Delfino, Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia, and Donatas Motiejunas. And maybe Terrence Jones apparently.

Advantage: Houston

Prediction: Rockets get blown out, worrying the fan base. 111-92 Blazers.

For a Blazers perspective, check out Blazer's Edge, probably my favorite SB Nation blog besides ours. Great writers, great perspective, and great conversation over there.

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