Howard comes through; Aldridge
One of the big focuses one Game 5 of this series was the fact that Dwight Howard came to play scoring 22 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t crack double figures. Going into Game 6 in Portland, I expect a huge bounce back game from Aldridge playing at home, and the NBA odds are low enough where I think there is sports betting value on the Blazers.
However after taking Game 5, the Rockets have now won three straight games ATS or have gone 2-0-1 ATS depending on the book you’re looking at. I think this is making the Blazers slightly undervalued on Friday night. The NBA odds have the Blazers as -3 ½ favorites, with a total of 213.
However even though Houston has played well ATS, they are only 1-4 SU on the road dating back to their last three road games of the regular season. The only road game they’ve won was Game 3 in Portland. Houston went 1-3-1 ATS during that stretch, and as we’ve seen from this team before, the road can be cruel.
The Sharp Pick
During the regular and postseason, the Rockets are only 7-11 ATS playing as road underdogs, and their defense has been a big factor. Houston was one of the worst statistical road defensive teams in the NBA this season, and going into Portland is not going to help things much. Their defense did look very good holding the Blazers to under 100 points on Wednesday, however their defense gives up at least five or six points more on the road compared to at home this season.
Just in their two games against Portland in this series, the Rockets gave up 116 and 123 points respectfully. I don’t see it getting any better with the Blazers wanting to lock down this series and not have to play a Game 7 in Houston. I expect all of the Blazers roll guys to step up some here, and even if Aldridge isn’t dropping 40 points, as long as he is in the 18-20 range, the Blazers should win this game.
Another big reason why I like the Blazers has been the play (or lack thereof) of James Harden. Even though they won thanks to some great play from Howard, Harden quietly had his worst game of the series in Game 5. He only shot 33% from the floor for 17 points. He did add seven assists, but if the Rockets aren’t going to play defense, they need Harden to score 25 or more every night. Wes Matthews has been great on Harden all series, and it doesn’t look like he will let up at home. I don’t see Harden going off against Portland in Game 6, and I am backing a Blazers cover with my NBA picks in this battle.
My Pick: Blazers -3 ½