Western Conference Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2, Portland at Houston
Series Status: Portland leads series 1-0
Game Info: 6:30 PM, TV on KGW/TNT, Radio on 620 AM
TNT Announcers: Joel Meyers, Chris Webber, Marty Snider.
Vegas Line: Houston -6
Refs: James Capers, Jason Phillips, Zach Zarba, LeRoy Richardson (Alternate)
The Skinny: The Blazers return to the court Wednesday as they look to take a commanding 2-0 lead over Houston in their first-round playoff series. Teams that win game 1 on the road win the series about 56% of the time while teams that win BOTH game 1 and 2 on the road win the series about 89% of the time. It will be tough but this team has shown us that they can win when things get tough.
Series in Review (Home team in bold for completed games, *=If necessary):
Game 1-Portland 122-Houston 120 (OT)
Game 2-Wednesday at Houston-6:30 PM (TNT/KGW)
Game 3-Friday at Portland-7:30 PM (ESPN/KGW)
Game 4-Sunday at Portland-6:30 PM (TNT/KGW)
Game 5*-April 30 at Houston
Game 6*-May 2 at Portland
Game 7*-May 4 at Houston
Projected Rockets Lineup (Regular Season stats):
PF: Terrence Jones (Kentucky-2nd season) – 12.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.1 APG
SF: Chandler Parsons (Florida-3rd season) – 16.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4 APG
C: Dwight Howard (SW Atlanta Christian (HS)-10th season) – 18.9 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.8 APG
SG: James Harden (Arizona State-5th season) – 25.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.1 APG
PG: Patrick Beverley (Arkansas-2nd Season) – 10.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.7 APG
Player to Watch: Jeremy Lin (pictured at right)– Things may have cooled a bit since but no one had as dramatic an entrance as Jeremy Lin had onto the NBA scene a few years back, when he seemingly could do no wrong. The “Linsanity” is gone but the player behind it is no slouch. Lin is an above-average NBA point guard with decent shooting skills, good passing and good enough defense. Where Lin falls down, however, is in his lack of rebounding, which for a team that shoots as many long jumpers as Houston does is low and his turnovers. Lin turns the ball over way too often, and this problem is not getting any better for him. Still, he is a solid NBA point guard on a team that just needs him to be that, given that Howard and Harden run the show.
Did You Know?: Houston did not shoot any FTs in the first half of Sunday’s game, marking the first time a team shot 0 FTs in the first half of a NBA playoff game since Dallas did so in the Roy Miracle game in 2011.
Song of the Day: “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” by Drowning Pool. If Houston is on the ropes Wednesday Portland needs to just let the bodies hit the floor and take control of the game as they look for the 2-0 series lead. Enjoy:
Houston: Probable-PG Patrick Beverly (Knee), PG Jeremy Lin (Illness)
Adjustments: Stopping Houston’s Wide Open 3s
Game 1, as glorious a win as it was, was far from a perfect performance by Portland. One thing the Blazers need to do better on Wednesday is avoid giving Houston wide open 3s. Houston was only 8-25 from 3 but that was not because Portland was playing good defense. In fact, the Blazers got pretty lucky as Houston made only 1 of their 12 3s in the 4th and OT. Time and time again the Blazers either ran into a Houston screen or doubled another player leaving a Houston shooter wide open . While some of this is unavoidable as doubling Howard, for example, is a good strategy, you can’t keep leaving Harden or Parsons wide open and just hope they miss. If the Blazers want a 2-0 series lead, they have to clean up this part of their game since they can’t count on Houston shooting this poorly from 3 if they get such open looks again.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They clean up their mistakes. The Blazers missed FTs, turned the ball over foolishly and couldn’t box out, all things they normally avoid. If they can clean up these mistakes they will stand a very good chance of taking a commanding 2-0 series lead.
Houston wins if: Make someone other than Aldridge and Lillard beat them. LMA and Lillard were nearly unstoppable in game 1. If Houston wants a 1-1 split, they have to make Batum, Lopez, Matthews or someone else beat them.