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NBA Playoff Prediction Game 2 Preview/Pick- Portland vs. Houston
Free NBA Pick Blazers vs Rockets
Portland Trail Blazers (54-28, 23-18 away) @ Houston Rockets (54-28, 33-8 home) 04/23- 9:30PM EST Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Game 2 of 7- Portland leads 1-0
Line: HOU -6.5
In what figured to be a great series lived up to its hype in Game 1 that saw a big overtime win by the visiting Trail Blazers 122-120 and now will look to steal another one in Houston on Wednesday night.
Much of Sunday’s Game 1 loss can be attributed to James Harden missing 20 shots, including two in the final seconds but the Rockets as a whole need to play much better if they have any hopes of tying the series up before heading out west.
“I wasn’t really driving and attacking and being aggressive like I needed to be,” Harden said. “I think when I get into the attack mode everything else opens up, the assists come and the easy layups come and whatnot. So I’ve got to be more aggressive.”
Portland is not expecting another off-shooting night from Harden and he will get his shots off (16.5 attempts per game), but they will try to contest and make him work for every shot once again.
“That’s what he does and we just need to make them difficult,” Portland coach Terry Stouts said. “”We need to contest them and do as good as a job as possible… He’s going to get his shots, but we’ve got to find him in transition, we’ve got to limit his attempts at the rim, do it without fouling, all those things.”
Despite missing 20 shots in the series-opener, Harden still managed to put up 27 points and Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge said they need to make sure Harden doesn’t “go-off” in Game 2. Easier said than done.
“Just try to stay close to him because he’s very good in transition,” Aldridge said. “He’s very good at the pull-up 3, he’s good at getting to the line, just trying to make all of his looks tough and don’t give him any space.”
Houston coach Kevin McHale knows all the blame shouldn’t fall on Harden for his team’s loss on Sunday.
“It was just a lot of settling for shots,” McHale said. “Just looking at their faces, they were almost all hyperventilating. They were all jacked up and juice up to go and we didn’t play very well.”
The Houston defense certainly didn’t show up as Aldridge went off for a career-high and franchise playoff-record of 46 points.
“We were really cognizant of trying to take the 3-point line away, probably too much so,” McHale added. “We didn’t dig, we didn’t help. We didn’t do a lot of things.”
McHale hinted his Rockets may have to double-team Aldridge more in Game 2 to limit the damage he can do.
Center Dwight Howard feels his team can bounce back after a tough loss and has been in this position before when his 2009 Orlando team lost their first playoff game but found their way into the NBA Finals.
“We lost a game we should have won but we’ve got a brand new game,” he said. “The series is not over … there’s no need to put our heads down. Just stay together. We didn’t let any negative thoughts get in our head. Don’t let this one game dictate how we’re going to play for the rest of the series.”
The oddsmakers certainly feel the Rockets will bounce back big in Game 2 by making them a (minus -6.5) point favorite with an over/under of 214.5, but get the latest lines on the game up until tipoff right here at Wonder Punter.
As much as I would like to think the Blazers will be hungry to win another game on the road, I think they feel content on what they accomplished in Game 1 and see them having a let down. The Rockets will play with a sense of urgency and I predict a big Game 2 win for them to tie the series up.
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter