It’ll be the third of four meetings this season when the Portland Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. The season series is tied at one game apiece as both teams continue to fall short of expectations — for different reasons.
The Houston Rockets have the greatest scorer in the league in James Harden and one of the fiercest competitors in Russell Westbrook, but they have been overshadowed by the Nuggets, Jazz, and the two teams in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers have been hit hard with injuries all year.
The Rockets have seen a few injuries recently, which could give the Trail Blazers an opportunity to take the series lead. James Harden and Clint Capela are both listed as questionable with the former closer to returning than the latter.
Houston Rockets Lost 4 of Last 10 Games
The Houston Rockets currently sit in the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference, 2.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets and 0.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks. If the Rockets want to keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ll need to start putting together some winning streaks. They were without Capela and Harden in their last game, but Eric Gordon’s 50 points helped lead the team to a surprising victory over the Utah Jazz.
He was hit with the injury bug earlier this season but has found a groove lately. The Rockets have the 2nd best offense in the league and 5th in rebounds per game, but their defense ranks 24th and continues to slow them down. They also rank 28th in assists per game, proving they don’t move the ball very well and rely on taking it themselves.
Trail Blazers Won 2 of Last 3 Games
The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves 3 games out of a playoff spot with the All-Star break approaching. There’s still plenty of time to squeak into the playoffs, but injuries have haunted them all year long. Still, they have Damian Lillard — who’s been playing lights out recently. If Lillard’s 158 points over the past three games don’t impress you, I’m not sure what will. He has been spectacular, including a 61-point game and a 50-point game. Portland has won two of those games and have scored more than 125 points in each of those three.
The Trail Blazers come equipped with the 11th best offense and 25th-worst defense. They’re the worst team in the league when it comes to assists, but the 9th best in rebounds per game. They’ll need to play much better defense against a Rockets team that can explode even with Capela and Harden on the bench. Mavericks / Thunder Betting LinesIf you were wanting to place a wager on this game, WilliamHill has the Houston Rockets (-125) with the 1.5-point advantage over the Portland Trail Blazers (+105). They’re expecting a lot of offense with the over/under listed at 235.5 points.
Free Betting Pick
We’ve got two very explosive offenses going up against two of the worst defenses. If you’re not expecting a high-scoring, back-and-forth game between the Rockets and Trail Blazers, then I’m not sure what you’re expecting. I think this will be a great game to watch. The Rockets are adamant on a quick return for Harden, but he’s still listed as questionable. While I think the victory will depend on whether he plays or not, I’m going to give the Trail Blazers the benefit of the doubt at home. With no Capela, Whiteside will play an important role. I have the Trail Blazers winning this one 124-119. Knup Sports Free Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (+1.5)