James Harden

A troubling loss in their most recent game must be causing some concern for the Houston Rockets about staying close to their two-center concept with Dwight Howard and Omer Asik, while the Portland Trail Blazers seem to be on the same page as last season, getting almost all of their points from their starting players.

The Blazers have started off the season at 2-1, with Mo Williams being the only meaningful contributor off the bench, scoring 8.7 points per game. The Blazers are still waiting for C.J. McCollum, and until then it’s about their starting players, which isn’t that bad.

LaMacrus Aldridge has enjoyed a fine start to the season with 25.7 points per game, and it’ll be his ability to stretch the floor and force the Rockets to give up on one of their centers that might decide the game. Despite all of that, Houston do play better when they’re using a stretch four in Chandler Parsons or Omri Casspi in the lineup, but both of them should be easy for Aldrdige to score against.

Wesley Matthews has also had a strong start with 16.7 points after it was thought he would be sent to the bench this season in order to provide more firepower for the second unit. Damian Lillard, as expected, has picked off where his rookie campaign ended, scoring 25 points per game.

The Houston Rockets were beat by 19 points against the Los Angeles Clippers, and their main goal in Portland will be trying to keep Howard out of foul trouble, which means helping Lin guard Lillard and keeping him away from the paint. Lin has a problem with the better point guards in the league defensively, which adds pressure on Howard or Asik when they’re in the lineup with the point guard.

Offensively, things look better when James Harden doesn’t try to do too many things on his own, as he shot only 0-of-7 from beyond the arc. His ability to get in the paint and draw fouls is crucial, which means we’re going to see a lot of help from Nicolas Batum on Harden in order to prevent the Blazers from being left without a center very early in the game.

Prediction – In another high scoring affair, the Rockets should learn from their mistakes against the Clippers and win in a very close one without too much defense.

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