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Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game preview

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

I’m getting tired of hearing about the ineptitude of the Houston Rockets.

I get it. The Rockets are bad. Really bad. They have so many issues that it would take a dissertation to cover them. What’s more, we’ve already heard about them a million times this season. And last season. And the season before (which had extra problems due to the James Harden nonsense, but then again he’s back to being a potential problem for Rockets fans).

So you’ll forgive me for talking about some other teams today. For one, there’s the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve lost 16 straight games and are desperately trying to outtank the Rocekts. We’ve discussed ad nauseum how point differential isn’t a perfect statistic, but if you believe in that stuff then the Spurs (-10.6) are significantly worse than the Rockets (-8.5). And yet, no one is talking about the Spurs. The only difference between the two franchises right now is that one of them has Gregg Popovich. And he’s only there in hopes of nabbing Victor Wembanyama.

The Detroit Pistons are two games ahead of Houston in the win column, but they’re 2-8 in their last ten and actually have a worse defense than Houston in a couple of metrics. No one is talking about them.

And that brings us the Portland Trail Blazers, who sat Damian Lillard and Jerami Grant in their first post-All-Star for rest. Rest! They just had a week off! Yes, Dame shot some threes on Saturday and shot some more threes on Sunday in a lame pickup game, but if the Blazers legitimately wanted to make the playoffs, those two would have played. Instead, it appears the tank is out. The Blazers are already missing Jusuf Nurkic (calf) and Anfernee Simons (ankle), and who knows who else will need rest tonight.

I think the Blazers saw that they’re just four games behind Orlando for a top 5 lottery spot. At the same time, they are only one game back of the final play-in spot. So if we start to see the Blazers pull the plug, it’s going to be pretty obvious that teams would rather increase their lotto odds than try to win a couple of games to get destroyed in the first round by Denver or whomever.

Maybe we really do need the lottery wheel or whatever that one idea was.

Tip-off is at 8pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest