Portland Trailblazers vs. Houston Rockets Game 3 Preview and Pick – 2009 NBA Playoffs

Portland Trailblazers +5.5 at Houston Rockets -5.5 O/U 184.5 9:30 PM ET Friday April 24, 2009 on ESPN
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

This best of 7 series is tied at 1-1.

Tonight the Blazers head to the Lone Star State to play the Houston Rockets in game 3 of this Western Conference first round playoff series. In game one Yao Ming dominated and was a perfect 9/9 from the floor and 6/6 from the charity stripe. In that game the Blazers played defense behind him and Yao made them pay.

In game 2 Portland changed it up, good call, and fronted him and Yao only had 11 points and 8 boards and was in foul trouble for most of the 2nd half. Brandon Roy was on fire in game 2 and the Blazers got into a shootout and came out with a win.

Both teams shot over 50% from the field in game 2 and for the Rockets to win this series they will have to get back to playing solid defense. LeMarcus Aldridge was a no-show in game one but came back in game 2 and scored 27 points and grabbed 12 boards. Basically the Blazers were aggressive and attacked the rim all night in game 2 and they played better defense.

This season the Rockets were 33-8 at home and the Blazers were 20-21 on the road.

Basketball bookies have the Rockets 5.5 favorites in this game with a total around 184.5. The Rockets are posted at -180 as home favorites and the Blazers are posted at +160 as road dogs.

The Blazers evened the series winning game 2 on Tuesday night 107-104. The high scorer for the Blazers in that game was Brandon Roy going for 42 points on 15/27 shooting. For the game the Blazers shot 38/74 from the floor for a FG% of 51.4%. The high scorer for the Rockets in game 2 was Aaron Brooks going for 23 points on 9/12 shooting. For the game the Rockets shot 37/74 for a FG% of 50%.

This season Portland ranked 14th in scoring (99.4 ppg) and the Rockets ranked 17th (98.4 ppg). On defense the Blazers ranked 4th in points allowed (94.1 ppg) and the Rockets ranked 7th (94.4 ppg). The Blazers were the best team in the league this season in terms of rebounding differential at +5.4 rpg and the Rockets were also solid on the boards at +3.1 rpg.

This season the Blazers were 46-36 ATS and the Rockets were 40-41-1. In terms of Over/Under games this season the Blazers were 38/44 and the Rockets were 40-41-1.

On the injury front neither team is reporting any significant injuries.

Even though the NBA injury report do not have the Rockets listing any injuries they did lose Dikembe Mutombo for the season with a quadriceps injury in game 2 and even though he is not the player he once was he was a solid backup to Ming. Now the next tallest backup is only 6’9″, which is not good facing the two 7 footers of the Blazers in Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla.

The Rockets were a solid defensive tam this season, but it did not show in game 2, as LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy both had big games. Ron Artest guarded Roy in the game and stated afterwards that it was the only time a player had scored over 40 points on him. If the Rockets can play good D against these two they will be in good shape. In game 2 there were only 2 other players that scored in double figures for the Blazers and they had 11 points and 10 points respectively.

Artest not only had problems defending Roy, but he struggled on offense as well. He did go for 19 points, but only on 8/20 shooting including only going 1/8 from beyond the 3-pt arc.

The Blazers shot just over 45% from beyond the 3-pt arc and they have to do that again in order to open up the lane for Aldridge and Oden.

The Blazers had 7 blocked shots in game 2 and the Rockets only had 1.

The Rockets have to get Ming more involved in the offense, as in game 2 he only took 6 shots all game and only took 5 free throws. If the Blazers can shut down Ming they have a good chance to win.

For the Rockets in this game it is all about defense, as they have to slow the tempo down and not allow the Blazers to get out and run and get easy buckets.

The Blazers have lost 10 of their last 11 games in Houston including both games this season.

Jason’s Pick: I look for a close game throughout with the Blazers covering!