NBA Playoffs Game Four Handicapping Selections: #4 Houston Rockets at #5 Portland Trail Blazers

2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #4

#4 Houston Rockets at #5 Portland Trail Blazers
Trail Blazers Lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Moda Center – Portland, Oregon
Sunday, April 27, 2014, 9:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Portland -2 1/2
Current Line: Portland -2 1/2
Opening Total: 217
Current Total: 214
Opening Money Line: Blazers -140 / Rockets +120
Current Money Line: Blazers -145 / Rockets +125

Portland looks to take a commanding 3-1 series lead against Houston in Sunday's game four of the Western Conference quarterfinals in Portland.

Portland looks to take a commanding 3-1 series lead against Houston in Sunday’s game four of the Western Conference quarterfinals in Portland.

The road team has won all three games so far in the Western Conference quarterfinal series between the #4 seed Houston Rockets and #5 seed Portland Trail Blazers. All three games have been competitive and two of the three games went into overtime. Portland won game one 122-120 in overtime and then took game two 112-105, both in Houston. The Rockets got back into the series Friday night with a 121-116 overtime victory in Portland. Now the teams face off in game four Sunday night in Portland. The Blazers look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, and a Rocket win would make it a best of three series.

In Friday’s game three, Houston took a 35-24 at the end of the first quarter. However, they would trail 55-54 at halftime. The Rockets would take an 11 point lead in the fourth quarter. The Trail Blazers would fight back to force overtime on a Nicolas Batum three pointer with 41 seconds left. Houston guard James Harden missed a half court heave at the buzzer that would have won the game.

In overtime, Portland took a 116-112 lead with 3:08 to go. Houston would tie it up at 116 with 1:51 to go. Rockets’ rookie guard Troy Daniels hit the go ahead three with 11.9 seconds to go to put Houston up 119-116. Until March 5, he was in the D-League for most of the season. Batum missed the game tying three with 4.9 seconds left, and Harden made two free throws to ice the game 121-116.

Harden scored a playoff career high 37 points and added 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.  He had struggled to find his shooting touch in the first two games in Houston. Center Dwight Howard continued his strong series with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Portland Forward LaMarcus Aldridge had scored over 40 points in the first two games, but was held in check Friday night by Houst0n Center Omer Asik. Aldridge had 23 points on 8 for 22 shooting, and also added 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. Blazers’ guard Damian Lillard had 30 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Batum had 26 points with 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 ateals.

Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. The Rockets have struggled down the stretch losing 5 of their last 8 games dating back to the regular season. The Rockets are 41-42-2 ATS and the total is 47-36-2 this season.

Houston is outscoring teams 108-103 this season. The Rockets are #2 in scoring and #23 in points allowed. Houston is shooting 47.2% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. The Rockets are #5 in field goal percentage. Houston is #28 of 30 teams in free throw shooting at 71.2% from the line. Opponents are shooting 44.3% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. Houston is 9th or better in both categories. The Rockets average 45.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 41.7 per game. The Rockets are #4 in rebounds and #8 in rebounds allowed. Houston averages 21.4 assists, 16.3 turnovers, 7.7 steals and 5.7 blocks per game. Opponents average 22.2 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 8.6 steals and 5.6 blocks per game.

Guard James Harden averages 25.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.  Center Dwight Howard averages 18.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. He returned last week after missing 8 games with an ankle injury. Forward Chandler Parsons averages 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Point guard Jeremy Lin averages 12.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Forward Terrance Jones averages 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Patrick Beverley also returned to to the line-up after missing extended time with a torn meniscus that didn’t require surgery. He averages 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Omri Casspi, Jordan Hamilton, Francisco Garcia, Omer Asik, and Donatas Motiejunas will  also get minutes in the rotation.

Portland is coached by Terry Stotts. The Trail Blazers have won 11 of their last 13 games. The loss Saturday snapped a 7 game winning streak for the Blazers. Portland is 46-39 ATS this season and the total is 49-35-1 this season.

Portland is outscoring teams 107-103 this season. The Trail Blazers are #4 in scoring and #22 in points allowed. Portland is shooting 45% from the field and 37.2% from 3 point range. The Blazers are #10 in 3 point shooting. Portland leads the league in free throw shooting at 81.5% from the line. Opponents are shooting 45.1% from the field and 35.5% from 3 point range. The Blazers average 46.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.5 per game. Portland leads the league in rebounding but is #22 in rebounds allowed. The Blazers average 23.1 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 5.5 steals, and 4.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 20.4 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 7.8 steals and 3.7 blocks per game.

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge averages 23.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1 block per game. Point guard Damian Lillard averages 20.7 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. Guard Wesley Matthews averages 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Forward Nicolas Batum averages 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. Center Robin Lopez averages 11 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright, Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, and Joel Freeland will also get significant minutes.

Houston is 2-5 ATS after allowing 100 points or more, 4-10 against teams with winning records, 2-5 after the opponent allows 100 points or more, 3-9 in road games, 2-6 overall, against western Conference teams, and after scoring 100 points or more, 6-20 in Sunday games, 1-5 against Northwest teams, and against teams with winning home records, and 0-4 after a cover. The underdog and road team are both 4-0 ATS in the series recently. The Rockets are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 trips to Portland.

Portland is 6-2 ATS after failing to cover, 5-2 in Sunday games, 7-3 against teams with winning records, 2-8-1 in first round playoff games, and 1-5 at home. The over is 13-3 in this series recently, and the last 5 in Portland have gone over.

This has been a wildly entertaining series with lots of scoring. Every game has gone down to the wire, and features four of the best players in the league. This is the kind of series you hope goes the full seven games. However, if Portland wins, the Rockets will be on the brink of elimination. Asik needs to contain Aldridge again, and Harden needs to shoot as well as he did in game three. I think the Rockets do both of those things and even the series at 2-2.

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