Take Red-Hot Home Trailblazers Over Complacent Rockets

Portland Blazers

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, March 30, 2017 5:10 PM GMT

Thursday, Mar. 30, 2017 5:10 PM GMT

Don’t make a move on Thursday’s nationally televised game between Houston and Portland without first reading Ross Benjamin’s betting preview. This article concludes with one of Ross’ free NBA predictions.

Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trailblazers

Portland will host Houston on Thursday night in a battle between Western Conference teams. The opening tip is slated for 10:35 PM ET and the game will be televised by TNT. At the time of this writing, NBA betting odds indicate that Houston is a 2.0-point favorite across the board, and there’s a total ranging from 230.0 to 230.5.

These teams have played one another twice this season with Houston won on both occasions, and they did so by sizable margins of 16 and 17-points. Each of those contests easily went over the total with a combined 239.5 points scored per game. As a matter of fact, dating back to last season, the last 4 meetings between these teams have all gone over the total.

 

Surging Blazers Playing with Urgency and Desperation

Portland has gone an impressive 12-3 over their last 15 games. That successful stretch has catapulted them to a 1.0 game lead over Denver for the 8th and final Western Conference playoff spot. They’re also a perfect 4-0 SU&ATS in their previous 4 contests, and won by a substantial 13.5 points per game.

After being a porous defensive team for the better part of this season, Portland has shown a marked improvement in that area of late. During their last 5 outings, Portland is allowing just 96.4 points per game, held opponents to only 43.5% shooting, and limited them to a paltry 28.3% conversion rate from 3-point territory. The latter of those statistics (3-point defense) is significant when considering Houston has attempted more 3-point shots this season compared to any other team.

 

Avoiding Complacency is Rockets Biggest Challenge

As opposed to Portland, Houston clinched a playoff spot weeks ago, and their biggest challenge right now is guarding against complacency. The Rockets can finish no less than 2nd place in the Southwest Division standings. Nevertheless, Houston is 6.0 games behind San Antonio for the top spot in the division, and each team has only 8 games left to play. Barring a monumental San Antonio collapse, the Rockets have little chance of improving upon their current situation, thus bringing their motivation into question.

 Final Analysis and Pick

Houston’s defensive intensity has left much to be desired in recent outings. The Rockets have allowed 114.8 points per game, and opponents have shot a red-hot 48.0% against them during their previous 5 contests. That goes hand in hand with a previously mentioned lack of motivation I’ve already alluded to. Furthermore, Houston may be prone to being overconfident tonight against an opponent they’ve handled with relative ease during their previous 2 encounters.

Portland has 6 of their last 8 regular season games at home. If they can hold serve on its home floor, their chances of being a playoff team becomes highly probable. Especially considering the team (Denver) chasing them has 6 away games and only 2 at home remaining to play. I like the home underdog in this spot, and one of my Thursday NBA picks will be proof of just that.

Free NBA Pick: Portland +2.0Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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