2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #3
#4 Houston Rockets at #5 Portland Trail Blazers
Trail Blazers Lead Best of Seven Series 2-0
Moda Center – Portland, Oregon
Friday, April 25, 2014, 10:35 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Portland -3
Current Line: Portland -2 1/2
Opening Total: 216
Current Total: 214 1/2
Opening Money Line: Blazers -150 / Rockets +130
Current Money Line: Blazers -140 / Rockets +120
Both #5 seeds in the NBA playoffs won the first two games on the road in their respective first round series. Now both the Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards return home with 2-0 series leads and look to take almost insurmountable 3-0 series leads. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit in a 7 game series.
Portland hosts the Houston Rockets Friday night. Houston is down 2-0 for two main reasons. The first is that they have had no answer for Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge who has scored over 46 and 43 points over the first tow games in Houston. Only Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have scored 40 or more points in back to back games among active players. The other reason is because Houston guard James Harden has struggled to find his shot in the first two games. Harden scored 18 points in the game two loss Wednesday loss, but was only 6/19 shooting from the field. Harden scored 27 points in game one but made only 8 of 28 field goals.
Portland won game one 122-120 in overtime. The Blazers led most of the way in game two Wednesday night in their 112-105 win. In addition to the 43 points, Aldridge added 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Guard Damian Lillard added 18 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds for Portland. Houston Center Dwight Howard scored 32 points and added 14 rebounds and 4 blocks in the losing effort.
Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. The Rockets have struggled down the stretch losing 5 of their last 7 games dating back to the regular season. The Rockets are 40-42-2 ATS and the total is 46-36-2 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 12 games including 7 straight. Portland is 46-38 ATS this season and the total is 48-35-1 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 in Friday games, 3-10 against teams with winning records, 1-6 overall, against Western Conference teams, and after scoring 100 points or more, 1-5 after allowing 100 points or more, in road games and after the opponent allows 100 points or more, 1-4 after failing to cover and after the opponent scores 100 points or more, 0-4 after a straight up loss, 0-5 against Northwest Division teams and against teams with winning home records. The underdog is 13-5-1 ATS in this series recently. The road team is 8-3-1 ATS in the last 12 games in this series. The Rockets are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 trips to Portland.
Portland is 4-1 ATS after a straight up win, overall, against Western Conference teams, against Southwest Division teams, and after scoring 100 points or more, 7-2 against teams with winning records, 5-2 after a cover, after the opponent scores 100 points or more, and on one day rest, 9-4 in Friday games, 2-7-1 in first round playoff games, and 1-4 at home. The last 9 games in this series have gone over the total, including the last 4 in Portland. The Blazers are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 games against the Rockets.
Houston and Portland split two early season meetings in Portland, but both games were in November and December. Houston needs to play better defense on Aldridge. harden is one of the streakiest shooters in the league. When he gets hot he is nearly unstoppable. I think he will be fine. This should be a wild Rip City crowd, as Portland hasn’t had a home playoff game since 2011. I think Porltand wins games three to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.