NBA Picks: Trail Blazers vs. Rockets Series Price

Steven Suarez

Friday, April 18, 2014 4:41 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 18, 2014 4:41 PM UTC

The fourth and fifth seeds in the loaded Western Conference will battle it out for a spot in the conference semi-finals. Houston has the home-court advantage and are favored to advance, but the odds are tighter than you might think.

Odds Overview
Looking at the top sportsbooks, we see Houston favored at roughly -210, with the Trail Blazers posted up at +175 to win the seven-game series. 

Game one will tip off on Sunday at 9:30 PM EST inside the Toyota Center.

Portland Trail Blazers (+175)
A sizzling finish to their regular season, which included a five-game winning streak to close things out, helped the Trail Blazers finish 54-28 overall. They went 31-10 at home and 23-18 on the road. 

For their efforts, they were awarded the fifth seed, meaning they'll do battle with James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Rockets in a tough first-round showdown.

As you can see by the NBA betting lines though, Portland shouldn't be taken lightly. They've exceeded everyone's expectations this season but they've clearly proven they're not a fluke and that they won't be going down easy.

It all starts with LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. LMA had an outstanding year, averaging 23.2 PPG and 11.1 RPG, while Lillard was good for 20.7 PPG, 5.6 APG and 3.5 RPG while playing in all 82 games this season. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews were crucial to the team's success on both ends of the floor and Robin Lopez helped beef up the frontcourt.

Portland excelled offensively throughout the year (106.7 PPG, fourth in the NBA) and also topped the league in rebounding (46.4 RPG), but they had their fair share of troubles defensively and they also have a serious lack of depth.

All five starters averaged over 31.8 minutes per game, with Mo Williams really the only guy playing significant minutes off the bench. Will that haunt them or help them come playoff time?

Compare the top NBA Championship Betting Lines

Houston Rockets (-210)
The Rockets didn't close out the regular season with conviction, but to be fair they had been playing it safe with Dwight Howard, who had been bothered with an ankle injury.

For the most part, Houston looked impressive throughout the year, posting a 54-28 overall record. They had one of the league's best home records at 33-8.

James Harden had another special season, averaging 25.4 PPG, 6.1 APG and 4.7 RPG, and Howard looked good whenever he was on the court. He went for 18.3 PPG, 12.2 RPG and 1.8 BPG throughout the regular season and the Rockets will be hoping they can get even more out of their big man when it matters most.

We can't forget about ultra reliable Chandler Parsons, who played in more games than any other player on the roster and was a steadying presence. Houston also just got Patrick Beverley back, and they had to be thrilled with the production they got out of Terrence Jones, as well as Omer Asik when he had to fill in for Howard. Asik could end up being an X factor here in the playoffs.

Only the Clippers were better offensively than the Rockets this season. They put up 107.7 PPG, with their focus on three-point shots and getting to the rim paying off in a big way. Harden was practically a ghost defensively but his dominance on the offensive end more than made up for it.

Paired with Howard, it's going to be interesting to see if Houston can make any real noise in the playoffs. Portland will be a stern test in the first round, but it's a test we think the Rockets will ultimately prevail through.

Series Pick: Rockets in 7

comment here