NBA Pick: NBA Playoff Play of the Day Friday

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, May 2, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

Every day during the NBA Playoffs, LT Profits Sports seeks that one single playoff play that has the best chance of cashing. Here is their Playoff Play of the Day Friday.

The fourth seeds in the Western Conference go on the road Friday night in an attempt to force a Game 7 down 3-2 in their NBA Playoffs first round series as those Houston Rockets (56-31, 22-21 away) pay a visit to the fifth seeded Portland Trail Blazers (57-30, 32-11 home) for Game 6 from the Moda Center in Portland, OR at 10:35 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Houston as a moderate road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -105.

When things go according to form, the four-seed vs. five-seed matchups figure to be the most competitive playoff series and such has been the case with this one as three games have gone into overtime including both games here in Portland! The Blazers won two of those three overtime affairs, which has been the difference in this series.

Furthermore, the last regular season game between these clubs also went into overtime, which is further evidence of just how close in talent these teams really are, and that alone would seem to make these points worth taking, as well as the fact that the underdogs were on a 5-0 ATS run until the Rockets broke through with a favored cover in Game 5 Wednesday, and even there Houston only led by two points with 3:30 remaining.

The Rockets did then go on to score the game’s final eight points for the 108-98 win as 4½-point favorites with the struggling James Harden scoring six of those points including a critical three-pointer. Harden had yet another poor shooting contest going 5-for-15 from the field, but if that clutch spurt by the league’s fifth leading scorer this season when Houston needed him the most gets him going, then a Game 7 would become a serious likelihood.

The fact that the Rockets have won two games and lost two in overtime without getting much from Harden must be seen as a major positive, as the rest of the starting lineup has stepped up nicely in this series and even sixth man Jeremy Lin provided 21 points off the bench on Wednesday. Dwight Howard has been a monster on the inside, as he added another 22 points and 14 rebounds in Game 5, so if Harden gets on track from the outside, look out!

With that said, Harden did finish with 17 points despite the bad shooting Wednesday, making him one of five Rockets to score in double figures including Lin off the bench. The lone exception was Patrick Beverley who only managed to play 21 minutes due to an illness, but he did play his usual good defense while he was on the court, which is probably his most important role anyway on a team lacking in defenders other than he and Howard.

Speaking of Howard’s defense, another reason why the Rockets were able to pull away late was because Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge was held to eight points after combining for 89 points in the first two games of this series in Houston, going a measly 3-for-12 from the field with Howard handling a lot of that defensive chore.

Sure the Blazers are still 32-11 at home in the regular season and playoffs combined, but the Rockets are 3-1 ATS in their four visits to Portland this year including 2-0 ATS here in this series and the common thread in those games has been Houston dominating the boards. The Rockets have won the rebounding battle in four of the five games in this series including a decisive 48-34 edge in Game 5, and we again look for Houston to have more second chances.

Then again, the Rockets may have fewer offensive rebounding opportunities if Harden’s field goal percentage normalizes. In any event, we recommend taking the points in Game 6 from Portland on Friday, as we like the chances of this series going to seven games.

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NBA Pick: Rockets +4 (-105)