Well, the Portland Trail Blazers hope that, now that they are in the driver’s seat for the #8 spot in the Western Conference playoff order, they can hold onto it, although the price for that will most likely be a series against the Golden State Warriors. But they have worked hard to get to this point, and they hope to bring a level of intensity into Thursday night’s game against the Houston Rockets, which begins at 10:30 PM ET at the Moda Center. Remember that BetAnySports customers can get reduced juice before the game, which gives them improved NBA betting odds, and they can challenge those odds in real time after the opening tip, using the state-of-the-art software provided by Live Betting Ultra.
Portland is on a pretty good streak right now, winning 12 out of its last 15 games, covering seven of its last eight. Certainly the 122-113 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday was gratifying on many levels; first of all, it gave this team possession of eighth place in the West. And also it was payback of sorts for Jusuf Nurkic, the team’s center, who had been discarded by the Nuggets, but has become extremely useful for Portland after being traded there. He had 33 points and 16 rebounds against his former team, and he provides genuine balance in the attack, with opposing defenses having to worry about stopping him and the potent regard duo of the Blazers at the same time. Of course, we are talking about Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum, who averaged 50 points per game between them.
In the NBA betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Houston is favored, but only slightly:
Houston Rockets -1
Portland Trail Blazers +1
Over 229 points -110
Under 229 points -110
Houston has had a very easy time of it in the two encounters this season. On November 17, the Rockets, at home, shot 48% in a 126-109 victory. They made 14 three-point shots and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds, so they pretty much dominated all the way around. Ten days later, it was much the same story, this time up in Portland, as Mike D’Antoni’s team rolled to a 130-114 win. Lillard and McCollum combined for 55 points, but James Harden had 38 for the Rockets, who shot 56% from the field.
We speak of Harden, quite obviously, when we talk about the Rockets’ offense, and it looks as if the MVP race in the NBA might come down to a duel between him and Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City. Harden is second in the league in scoring, but is the NBA leader in assists, and he has a knack for getting to the free-throw line – in fact, more frequently than any other player in the league. Harden is also an iron man, placing second in the league in minutes played.
The Rockets are second in the NBA in Offensive Rating and fourth in the “Pace” category, something that is definitely expected from any team coached by D’Antoni. They heave up more three-pointers than any other team, hitting 36.2% of them. They are also very good defending triples (allowing just 34.6%). Portland has basically the same shooting percentage from beyond the arc as they allow (37.3%). But what’s interesting is that only one of the Blazers’ last seven opponents have shot better than 30% from downtown.
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