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Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game preview

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers need this game.

The Houston Rockets don’t need this game.

That should give you an idea about how this game will go.

With James Harden ailing and refusing to sit, the Rockets are in a tough spot. Harden wants the MVP. That much is clear. And Russell Westbrook is on a tear. So he won’t sit. And Mike D’Antoni won’t force him to do so.

The Blazers are in a full-on battle with the Denver Nuggets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. With their win over the Nuggets on Tuesday night, the Blazers now sit a full game ahead of Denver and have the tiebreaker. Six of their eight remaining games are at home at the Rose Garden (I won’t call it the other name).

They’ve been buoyed by the arrival of Jusuf Nurkic. Winners of seven of their last eight games, Nurkic’s 15/11 in his last ten games has helped a ton. Of course C.J. McCollum and Voldemort will carry the offense, but right now the Blazers are rounding into form. They’re winning high-scoring games and they’re winning low-scoring games.

Their cast of role players are capable of being an X-factor. Al-Farouq Aminu, Allen Crabbe, and Evan Turner can all come off the bench and hit a few big shots. And Meyers Leonard plays like Meyers Legend when he plays the Rockets. I expect this to be a frustrating game for Rockets fans and Houston completes the stretch of helping the Blazers by giving them a win after beating the Nuggets twice recently.

Tip-off is at 9:30pm CT on TNT.

P.S. If you want a laugh.