The Portland Trail Blazers (31-9) will try to complete a sweep of the Texas Trio tonight when they visit the Houston Rockets (27-15). Not only are the Blazers going for their third victory in their four-game road trip, they are looking for their sixth consecutive win overall. In the two previous matchups this season, both in Portland, the Blazers and Rockets have split wins.
Houston walked out of Portland with a 116-101 victory on November 5th. A little more than a month later, the Blazers were able to regroup and defeat the Rockets 111-104. Playing in Houston has been a problem for the Blazers as of late, dropping 14 of 17 at the Toyota Center. The Rockets have also been playing well recently winning four of their last five games.
This game was moved to the nationally televised spotlight on TNT as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day NBA Showcase. The Blazers have another opportunity to show that they are a top contender in the West.
Portland Trail Blazers:
- No injuries to report.
- Patrick Beverley will be back in the lineup tonight after missing 30 games with a fractured hand.
- Francisco Garcia is dealing with tendinitis in his left knee and will be sidelined.
- Terrence Jones hopes to play tonight with a bruised thigh but will remain a game-time decision.
- Greg Smith will continued to be sidelined with a sore right knee.
- Omer Asik continues to struggle with a knee and thigh injury and will be out tonight.
Keys To The Game
Limit Harden and Howard. It’s no secret that James Harden and Dwight Howard are the keys to the Rockets success. Against Portland, this duo has been spectacular. Howard has dominated the Blazers this season averaging 30.5 points in two games while shooting 68.6 percent. In the last five games against the Blazers, James Harden has averaged 31.0 points while shooting 56.0 percent. The Blazers must make an effort to help down low against Howard. Julian Reed, a fellow Rip City Project writer, wrote an interesting article on Portland’s reluctance to double team. The Blazers have won this season without double teaming but it might be time to give it a try.
Rebounds and Points in the Paint. In the win against Dallas on Saturday, the Blazers had their best game in regard to points in the paint. They scored a season-high 60 points in the paint. The Blazers have been dubbed a jump shooting team that can’t score inside. With their effort in Dallas, the Blazers showed a new side of their game. They also edged the Mavericks 55-30 on the glass. If the Blazers continue to develop into an inside scoring team that can rebound, they might be on their way to further success.