Western Conference Playoffs, Round 1, Game 6, Houston at Portland
Series Status: Portland leads series 3-2
Game Info: 7:30 PM, TV on KGW/ESPN, Radio on 620 AM
ESPN Announcers: Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown and Heather Cox
Vegas Line: Portland -4
Refs: Mike Callahan, Ron Garretson, Bill Kennedy, Mark Ayotte (alternate)
The Skinny: The Blazers look to improve on their 14-1 record in home series-closeout games as the host the Rockets in what everyone in Rip City hopes is the final game between the two teams this season. It has been a thrilling series and it is fitting that it will hopefully end in Portland. A win tonight would secure Portland’s first series win in 14 years.
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-Portland 123-Houston 120 (OT)
Game 5-Houston 108-Portland 98.
Game 6-Friday at Portland-7:30 PM (KGW/ESPN)
Game 7*-Sunday at Houston
Projected Rockets Lineup (Regular Season stats):
PF: Omer Asik (Turkey-4th season) – 5.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, .5 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: Omer Asik (pictured at right) – Asik was actually originally drafted by the Blazers but was traded to Chicago on draft day. After a few seasons in Chicago, Houston put up an offer sheet that the Bulls chose not to match and the big man was on his way to Houston. Yet, not all was rosy for him as Howard’s arrival last summer precipitated a trade demand that was not fulfilled. Since returning to the lineup Asik has been a solid player. He doesn’t do much on offense other than dunk it, or perhaps score the occasional put-back and his real contributions are on defense. He has done a good job on Aldridge the past few games. LMA and the Blazers as a whole will have to find a way to neutralize this if they want to close out the series Friday at home.
Did You Know?: The Rockets have actually outscored the Blazers by 3 points over the series first five games with their ten point win on Wednesday.
Song of the Day: “Movin’ On Up” from the TV Show “The Jeffersons”. The Blazers will hopefully be movin’ on up to the second round after tonight. Enjoy:
Adjustments: Honing a Killer Instinct
Look the Blazers are good at digging themselves a hole and climbing out of it. Yet, what the best teams do is take the lead, take control and then close their opponents out. Playing from behind is exhausting, and although comebacks are exhilarating, it is far better to take the lead and then control the game. Then when your opponent stumbles and you have a 6-9 point lead, you go on a big run and all of a sudden the margin is 15 and the game is over. Houston has failed to show any sort of killer instinct much of this series, although they certainly had one in game five. Here’s hoping Portland is able to get up on Houston, then when the team is right, unleash their killer instinct and advance to the second round.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Aldridge is his usual self and they play a solid game. Houston is not a team that you have to be perfect to beat, far from it. If Aldridge is able to have even an average game by his standards and the team otherwise plays reasonably well, the Blazers should be able to ride that to a game and series win.
Houston wins if: They play from ahead and show no mercy . Houston can come from behind with their three point shooting, even as bad as it has been this series the ability is still there. However, if they want to force a seventh game they had best play from ahead and then when Portland makes their runs, show no mercy.