NBA Playoffs Game Six Handicapping Picks: #4 Houston Rockets at #5 Portland Trail Blazers

2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #6

#4 Houston Rockets at #5 Portland Trail Blazers
Trail Blazers Lead Best of Seven Series 3-2
Moda Center – Portland, Oregon
Friday, May 2, 2014, 10:35 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Portland -3 1/2
Current Line: Portland -4
Opening Total: 213
Current Total: 212 1/2
Opening Money Line: Blazers -190 / Rockets +162
Current Money Line: Blazers -195 / Rockets +165

The Trail Blazers look to close out the Houston Rockets in game six of their first round playoff series Friday night in Portland.
The Trail Blazers look to close out the Houston Rockets in game six of their first round playoff series Friday night in Portland.

The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t advanced past the first round of the playoffs since they lost to the LA Lakers in the 2000 Western Conference Finals. That can change tonight with a win at home in game six of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Houston Rockets Friday night. The Rockets will force a game seven Sunday in Houston with a win.

Portland won game one in Houston 122-120 in overtime. The Trail Blazers would also take game two 122-115. Houston won game three in Portland 121-116 in overtime. The Blazers took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 123-120 overtime win in game four. The Rockets avoided elimination in game five in Houston 108-98.

Houston took a 3 points lead at the end of the first quarter. The Rockets would extend the lead to 14 with an 11-0 run to start the second quarter. Houston would build the lead to 51-34, but Portland closed the first half on a 14-5 run to make it 56-48 at halftime. Portland cut the lead to 5 by the end of the third. Portland would cut the lead to one at three different times in the fourth quarter but could never take the lead. The Blazers pulled within 100-98 with 3 minutes left, but Houston closed the game on an 8-0 run to stay alive with a 10 point win.

Dwight Howard led the Rockets with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Guard Jeremy Lin scored 21 points off the bench after a lackluster game four performance. Lin played extended minutes in place of Patrick Beverley who played only 19 minutes because he was running a 101 degree temperature for most of the game. Chandler parsons scored 20 points. James Harden scored 17 points and also had 7 assists and 3 steals. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points. Damian Lillard who is having a breakout series for Portland scored 26 points, along with 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. The only Portland starter not to score in double digits was LaMarcus Aldridge who had been averaging 35.3 points per game in the series. He was held to 8 points with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. The Blazers scored only 5 bench points.

Houston is coached by Kevin McHale, who could lose his job if the Rockets lose this series. The Rockets are 42-43-2 ATS and the total is 48-39-2 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 is probable Friday with the illness.  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 12 of their last 15 games. Portland is 47-40 ATS this season and the total is 50-36-1 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 4-9 ATS in road games and 3-9 against teams with winning home records. The underdog and road team are both 5-1 ATS in the last six games in this series. The Rockets are 11-5-1 ATS recently against the Trail Blazers, including 7-1-1 in Portland.

Portland is 9-19 ATS against Southwest Division teams, 3-12-1 in first round playoff games, 1-4 on one day rest, and against teams with winning road records, and 1-6 at home. The over is 13-3 in this series recently, including 6-0 in Portland.

Houston was able to stave off elimination in game five, but now must win on the road in a tough environment. The Rockets won game three in Portland to avoid an 0-3 series hole. Dwight Howard has had a great series so far, but his running buddy James Harden has struggled from the field. Portland’s dynamic duo of Aldridge and Lillard has been spectacular except for Aldridge’s bad game Wednesday. I think Portland wins at home to close out the series.

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