Saturday, December 5, 2009

Trail Blazers vs. Rockets: Game 21

The 11-8 Rockets travel into the Rose City winners of 3 straight, good enough to boost their record to 11-8, which places them currently in 7th place in the Western Conference. Many people immediately wrote off Houston as soon as the news broke about Yao missing the entire season, but Blazer fans should know that you can never count out a Rick Adleman coached team. With the emergence of Aaron Brooks into a borderline All-Star player and the free agent acquisition of Trevor Ariza, their offense hasn't really missed a beat, by putting up 102 points per game. The only problem is their defense is near the bottom ten in the league by allowing a little over 100 a game, which is where Yao's true presence is missed.
Despite turning the ball over 25+ times in the season opener, Portland cruised to a 15+ win, but Houston got their revenge on Halloween night in the face of Roy scoring a season-high 42 points. These teams have seen a lot of each other lately, 6 times in April and now 3 times in the first 21 games, so both should know exactly what the other is going to do. It will all come down to execution. Portland needs to keep Brooks out of the paint, contain Scola, Hayes, and Landry on the glass, and figure out somebody to guard Ariza, who was the main reason why Houston won on Halloween night with a career-high 33 points and 5 made 3 point field goals. Houston needs to force Portland to be a perimeter team, create turnovers, and control the boards as Portland leads the NBA in rebounding differential at over +5.
I haven't seen so much uncertainty around a regular season game in a long time. Losers of three straight games, fans in Portland are nervous as they are in uncertain waters, because Portland only had one three game losing streak all of last year. If that wasn't enough to deal with both Oden and Cunningham are listed as probable and should go, but you still never know and LaMarcus is a game-time decision. The cherry on top of the sundae has to be Coach Nate requiring surgery on a torn Achilles suffered while practicing with the team yesterday and will miss his coaching duties at least through the upcoming 4 game road trip. It will be very interesting to see how lead assistant Dean Demopoulos manages the game. Does he have instructions from Nate or will he venture off in his own direction of coaching? While listening to Wheels at Work yesterday, Jason Quick said he believed the change was going to be made soon in regards to switching Blake with Miller in the starting lineup and maybe even Rudy for Webster, but will these happen with Nate out?
With all of these uncertainties, it is nearly impossible to predict this game, but you have to believe Portland will finally be well rested, after their first 3 consecutive days off in the season, and hungry to end this losing streak. With or without LMA, I believe Roy will assert himself and will this team to victory. Another huge key is Greg. He must stay out of foul trouble, because he should be able to score, block, and rebound at will against players 4-5 inches shorter than he is.
Game 21 Prediction: Trail Blazers 97 Rockets 94


  1. Aw, man. Talk about an empty victory.

  2. You're telling me..honestly, I wasn't even that juiced when we won