Western Conference Playoffs, Round 1, Game 4, Houston at Portland
Series Status: Portland leads series 2-1
Game Info: 6:30 PM, TV on KGW/TNT, Radio on 620 AM
TNT Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Marty Snider
Vegas Line: Portland -2.5
Refs: Ken Mauer, Eric Lewis, Ed Malloy
The Skinny: The Blazers look to bounce back from Friday’s disappointment as they face the Rockets in game 4 Sunday night. Game 3 wasn’t exactly a work of art but it was thrilling and featured a crazy finish in OT. Still, even with Friday’s loss, and despite Harden’s claims otherwise, this series is still in Portland’s control if they can win game 4.
Series in Review (Home team in bold for completed games, *=If necessary):
Game 1-Portland 122-Houston 120 (OT)
Game 2-Portland 112-Houston 105.
Game 3-Houston 121-Portland 116 (OT)
Game 4-Sunday at Portland-6:30 PM (TNT/KGW)
Game 5-Wednesday at Houston-Time TBD (TBD/KGW)
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: Dwight Howard (pictured at right) – Is there anyone who cares about the NBA who is NOT tired of the seemingly endless talk about where Dwight Howard would end up? Yeah, me neither. Dwight is now firmly ensconced in Houston thankfully and looks set there for a few years at least. Howard has all the physical skills you could every ask for in a big man, rebounding, defense, finishing near the rim, and on and on but often he has seemed to lack the effort needed to fully take advantage of these gifts. Howard is also a poor free throw shooter and is prone to committing silly fouls. Still, if the effort is there, Howard is probably about the best there is right now and the early returns suggest that Houston is a great place for Dwight Howard.
Did You Know?: Troy Daniels was the first player in NBA history to make a playoff game winner with five or less games of regular season playing experience.
Song of the Day: “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J. The Blazers can be counted on to fight back and hopefully knockout the Rockets in game 4. Enjoy:
Adjustments: Box the F Out
Beyond all the officiating in game 3, what really cost the Blazers the game was their inability to box out and limit Houston to only one shot attempt per possession. Especially with an elite interior player like Howard, giving up second chances is just asking for trouble. The Blazers will have to do much better than this and history shows they can Portland is, after all, one of the top rebounding teams in the league this season. This is not to say that limiting second chance points will necessarily equal a win, Houston could just make more shots and leave fewer rebounds but it will decrease the chance Houston can pull off a second straight win.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play their game. Portland did not play good basketball for much of game 3. They were careless, they got beaten out for offensive rebounds and just generally looked off. If they can get back to playing as they did much of this season, they should be able to take a 3-1 series lead.
Houston wins if: They play better interior defense. Houston’s interior defense in game 3 was absolutely atrocious. Time and time again the Blazers would almost literally walk straight to the rim without much effort. The Rockets will have to do much better if they want to win Sunday.