Last time the Rockets played the Blazers, I gave you a Harry Potter-themed preview. It's Sunday though, so it's a short preview. No Voldemort to talk about, even if he will be on the court.
The Blazers started the season 30-8 and were being discussed among the elite teams in the league. They were within walking distance from the Warriors and were beating almost every team that crossed their path.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Larry O'Brien Trophy for Portland: a 4-12 stretch that even Portland retractors have found confounding. Part of it can be explained by a tougher schedule. Another part can be chalked up to back-to-backs. Injuries have also played a factor.
Still, this is a Blazers team that expects to contend in May and June. Honestly, they had reason to be hopeful. Their starters had another year to gel. Their young players (of whom they have a handful) had another year to turn into productive pieces. They brought in Steve Blake and Chris Kaman to fill out their bench. Mostly, the vaunted chemistry and stability that Mark Cuban loves is on full display in Portland.
Last night, Portland led by 16 in the 4th quarter against Dallas and led by 11 with 2 minutes remaining. Dallas sent the game to overtime and won by 10.
The fact that Portland played an overtime game last night bodes well for Houston. However, the manner in which they lost could turn Houston into the victims. When teams lose in horrifying fashion, they usually come out red hot to start the next game because they're pissed and ready to take out their frustration.
Of note is that Portland did not have LaMarcus Aldridge or Robin Lopez the last time these teams met. Houston had its full complement of starters, but were obviously without Terrence Jones. Corey Brewer played his first game as a Rocket that night.
Josh Smith wasn't a Rocket for that game and wouldn't come to Houston for another couple of days. One of the reasons that Houston brought in Smith was to deal with bigger power forwards like Aldridge. It will be interesting to see how he does.
Of course, the Rockets will be without Dwight Howard, which will make this game infinitely more difficult.
So TDS, what's your prediction?
Tip-off is at 6pm CST.
Trail Blazers vs Rockets coverage
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