Portland at Houston
Time: 8:30 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: HOU -9
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Rockets enter as winners of six of its last 10 and is 14-4 at home where it hosts the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half of an ESPN Wednesday night doubleheader. The Rockets are 9-point favorites in the game, with the over/under set at 236 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
HOUSTON news & notes:
The Houston Rockets have won nine of its last 13 overall to arrive at 26-13 and the No. 5 spot in the West thus far.
Superstar guard James Harden is averaging a silly 38.2 points per game on the season with 7.5 assists to his credit as well. He is connecting on 38 percent of his threes and 46 percent of his field goals while turning it over an “almost excusable” 4.7 times per game. It is excusable simply because Harden produces so much that it is a mere corollary of the ball being in his hands most of the time.
Westbrook has fared well as a Rocket, though. He is shooting 43 percent from the floor while posting per-game averages of 24.2 points, 8 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 1.9 blocks/steals in 35 minutes a night. The Rockets thus far appear to have great chemistry, which was something that was both developed quickly and unexpected by many naysayers and pundits who mostly felt that Harden and Westbrook would be unable to share the ball well together. Due to the fact that both rely on having the ball in their hands to create offense, it remains to be seen how long and how well this pairing of Westbrook and Harden works.
The pair once was together in OKC, but neither is used to the role they respectively played during that time. Westbrook has averaged eight assists per game over the last two, and his minutes seem to be locked in at 33 to 35 per game, which should take some of the load off of it, in the name of the ever-present “load management.”
The Rockets have also got more offense out of center Clint Capela this season. He is averaging 13.9 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks/steals per game. PJ Tucker has seen his role offensively increase, and he is taking advantage, averaging 8.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Eric Gordon has seen his role change with Westbrook aboard, and he is not doing as much as he had in the past two seasons, either.
But then again, this is a Houston team that averages 119.4 points per game, so perhaps asking for more offense from any player at this point resembles nothing but greed.
PORTLAND news & notes:
Portland has won just three of its last 10 overall, and at 17-24 it trails the No.8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies by two full games for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
Carmelo Anthony has been the headliner for news in Portland, and the free-agent acquisition seems to be nothing but good for the Blazers’ rotation. Melo is averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 32 minutes a night through his first 23 games (all of which he has started). It has pushed Mario Hezonja back out of the starting lineup, where he was having his struggles. The Blazers also seemed to legitimately have added a true No. 3 option behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combine to average 48.8 points and 11.4 assists per game in the backcourt.
The Blazers are arguably a better team on paper this year than last, but injuries have prevented it all from fully translating. Hassan Whiteside is something of an upgrade over the injured Jusef Nurkic, but losing Zach Collins to injury was a bit of a blow to a team thin on frontcourt depth. Rodney Hood has been a pleasant surprise as a second-unit scorer, though, with his 50.6 percent shooting and 11 points per game. The Blazers simply need a healthy roster before it can build the chemistry and momentum that it really should.