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Rockets at Blazers - Game 3

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Only three teams in the first round of the NBA playoffs head into Game 3 of their series up 2-0. Expectedly, Miami took the first two contests from Charlotte, while Washington rallied for a pair of road victories at Chicago. Out west, the Blazers went on the road to take two games against the stunned Rockets, as Portland is in a prime spot to advance to the second round, as long as they can take care of home-court.

Portland rallied from a 13-point deficit in Game 1 at Houston to beat the Rockets in overtime, 122-120 to cash outright as a 5 ½-point underdog. LaMarcus Aldridge dominated the Rockets with a 46-point, 18-rebound effort, while Damian Lillard wore down the Houston backcourt in his playoff debut with 31 points. The Rockets actually built a five-point lead in overtime, but Kevin McHale’s club shot just 26-of-40 from the foul line, while James Harden missed 20 shots from the floor.

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Game 2 barely went ‘over’ the total of 215 as the Blazers held off the Rockets, 112-105, to cover as 6 ½-point ‘dogs. All six games between these teams this season have finished ‘over’ the total, while Aldridge stepped up again for Portland with a 43-point output. Portland erased an eight-point deficit after the first quarter, as Harden and Chandler Parsons combined to misfire on 23 shots from the floor. In seven of nine quarters (including overtime of Game 1), the Blazers have outscored the Rockets, but now the target is on Portland’s back heading home.

VegasInsider.com handicapper Vince Akins has several solid trends that back the Blazers tonight. According to Akins, the Rockets are 0-8 ATS since Mar 06, 2012 on the road with at most one day of rest when they have lost their last three games SU and ATS. When Harden doesn’t shoot well, this Houston team doesn’t recover. In Akins’ database, the Rockets are 0-7 ATS since December 31, 2013 after Harden shot worse than 33% from the field.

From a totals perspective, handicapper Stephen Nover feels tonight’s contest will dip ‘under’ the total of 216. Nover explains, “Both matchups were lucky to go ‘over.’ They should have been ‘under.’ It took overtime to push Game 1 above the total. It looked like Game 2 was going to go under, too, but 17 points were scored during the final 67 seconds in a flurry of free throws.” Nover makes an excellent point on the struggles of Houston’s All-Star shooting guard, “Harden's been cold for a while now as he finished the regular season shooting 36.1 percent from the floor during the last five games.”

The Blazers have won 31 of 41 games at the Moda Center, but put together a 19-22 ATS record at home. Portland has captured seven of its last eight home contests, but the Blazers covered just three times in this span. In two home meetings in the regular season with the Rockets, Portland dropped a 116-101 decision in early November as two-point favorites, as Houston shot a blazing 54% shooting from the floor. In the second matchup at the Moda Center in mid-December, Aldridge put up a ridiculous line of 31 points and 25 rebounds to lead Portland to a 111-104 win as two-point favorites.

The Rockets opened up the series as a -195 (Bet $195 to win $100) favorite to advance to the second round. However, following a pair of home defeats, the tables have turned as the Blazers are now a -440 favorite to win this series. If you believe Houston can come back and win four of the next five games, the Rockets are listed at +350 (Bet $100 to win $350), which isn’t crazy since Houston has won two of the last three visits to Oregon.

The Blazers enter tonight’s action as a three-point home favorite, while the total is sitting between 215 ½ and 216. The Rockets own a 1-5 SU/ATS record in their last six road games, as things tip off at 10:35 PM EST and the game can be seen on ESPN.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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