Trail Blazers/Rockets Pre-Game
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  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 01/29/2010 2:08 PM


    In a battle of two teams heading the same direction, the reeling Trail Blazers (27-20), losers of two straight and four of their last six, head down south to face off against the Rockets (24-21) who are on their own three-game losing skid. As you all know, guard Brandon Roy will not make the Texas Two Step road trip, which puts even more pressure on everyone else to step up and not allow the team's first three-game losing streak since December of 08. Fortunately for Portland's playoff hopes, only the Jazz have stepped up and taken advantage of our latest drought as the Blazers still find themselves sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference with hopes of welcoming back their All-Star as soon as Monday. Getting a split on this quick road trip would do wonders for our playoff chances and tonight puts the team in the best position to get a win as tomorrow will be a back to back against a much tough Maverick team.

    One positive about tonight's matchup is the fact Portland isn't completely undersized as both teams have had to deal with their starting centers being injured for the season. When Houston beats us up, it usually starts on the glass. It is a must tonight for not only Aldridge and Howard, but small forwards Webster and Batum to get dirty in the paint and rebound. Portland is still #1 in holding the opposition in rebounds at 37.85 a game, but Houston averages an even 42 every game. The Rockets occupy three of the top scrappiest players in the league in regards to Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, and Carl Landry, which means the Blazers can not come into this game with their heads down and lack energy, otherwise it will be a long night on the glass.

    Although Trevor Ariza had a career-high 33 points on 5-8 from distance during the Halloween night victory for Houston over Portland, he has came back down to earth in the month of January. In 12 games this month, Ariza is netting only 14 a night on 38.8% shooting from the floor and a dismal 26.1% from behind the arc. The player Portland needs to keep their eye on is former Duck Aaron Brooks who had a coming out party in last season's playoff series and had contributed 28 points in the October 31st win as well. I hope we see little of Blake or Miller on Brooks as he is too lightning quick, and more Jeryd Bayless and Nicolas Batum trying to disrupt his rhythm. Bayless must be careful he doesn't get too aggressive and pick up touchy fouls on Brooks, but he definitely possesses the quickness to keep up. On the other hand, Batum has the length and just enough lateral quickness to bother Brooks as he has done to Deron Williams and Tony Parker before in the past.

    For Portland to get a W tonight, they must ride the broad shoulders of LaMarcus Aldridge. Chuck hayes, albeit undersized, is really one of the best low-post defenders in the game. One way LMA can take him out of his rhythm is by doing something different every time down the floor. Also, be aggressive and force him into foul trouble. If LaMarcus can get easy points in the paint, look for that to really spread the floor for our shooters. Finally, without any shot blockers in there for the Rockets, Miller and Bayless need to take advantage and penetrate. The best way to get out of a team-wide shooting funk is to get to the charity stripe.

    I really want to predict a Blazer victory, but after starting off 2-0 without Roy in the lineup, the team's record without him has drastically decreased to 3-4 and the Cinderella magic seems to be wearing off. I do think the Blazers will get off to much better starts than they have these past two home games and keep it close down the stretch, but Carl Landry has been playing at an All-Star level this year and is a prime candidate for 6th Man, Scola always gives us fits, and Aaron Brooks will deliver some huge daggers in the crunch.
    Game 48 Prediction: Trail Blazers 92 Rockets 98
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