Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Rockets at Blazers preview

By Tony Mejia

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS)

Betting Odds Breakdown

The Blazers opened as a 1-point home favorite.

Eye Test

The Rockets remain fourth in most championship futures odds behind the three title favorites who have separated themselves, the Lakers, Clippers and Bucks. Even though James Harden and Russell Westbrook have struggled some with their efficiency, they’ve also done enough damage to have Houston atop the Southwest Division. They were expected to lead the Western Conference in regular-season wins according to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook’s projected totals but are currently running fifth and are just two games up on seventh-seeded OKC. Mike D’Antoni is hoping to push the right button in order to help his team go on a run and gain some separation.

The Trail Blazers have dealt with a number of injuries this season but may get center Jusuf Nurkic back sooner than later since he returned to practice last week. A dreadful start has eliminated all realistic hope of competing for a third Northwest title in six years, so at this point, this group is just hoping to scramble in order to reach the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The last time Portland finished fourth within its division was the last time it failed to finish top-eight in the West, but Memphis is just three games up in the race or No. 8 and there’s still plenty of time to make up ground. The team added Trevor Ariza via trade last week to upgrade their frontcourt depth and don’t appear to be sellers despite their uncertain future. It remains to be seen whether Hassan Whiteside becomes trade bait, which should be decided in the coming week.

Current Form

The Rockets played their first game without Harden and Westbrook on Monday and pulled off a massive upset in Utah. Clint Capela also sat out. Eric Gordon led the way with a 51-point outburst in playing the Harden role as a small-ball approach kept the Jazz from getting comfortable in a frustrating loss for them considering they obviously let their guard down without Houston’s top-three in the mix. Houston is just 4-6 (4-6 ATS) over its last 10, its worst stretch of the season. Westbrook is back after “load maintenance” but Harden and Capela were listed as ‘questionable’ as of Wednesday morning. Harden is coming back from a thigh bruise and Capela is looking to return from a sore heel as Houston closes out a four-game road trip before returning to duel with Dallas at home on Friday. The Pelicans visit Sunday, so this is a big week. While Harden should play, Capela’s availability is definitely in question, so small-ball could be in full effect once again.

Portland has only won consecutive games once this month and is will see a typhoon of emotion on Friday as the first opponent the Lakers will face prior to Kobe Bryant’s death. The Blazers are 6-7 (4-9 ATS) in January, so another sub-.500 is in the cards unless they pull off a win here and an upset on Friday. The Blazers have split their last 12 contests after suffering through a season-long five-game losing streak from Dec. 23-Jan. 1. C.J. McCollum returned from a sprained ankle and scored 28 points while hitting six 3-pointers in Sunday’s 139-129 win over the Pacers. Damian Lillard led the way with a 50-point night while Whiteside added 21 points, 14 boards and six blocks. The Blazers have averaged 131 points over their last three games but have given up 128.7 in that same span.


This will be the third of four meetings between these teams this season, but just the first in Portland. They’ll meet again at Moda Center on March 15. The Blazers won the most recent matchup in Houston 117-107 on Jan. 15 after falling 132-108 on Nov. 18, so the over and under have split as well. The most recent total closed at 237 while the first meeting saw the figure wrap at 231. Harden is averaging just 24.5 points over the course of the two meetings after being held to a season-low 13 points in the most recent matchup. Westbrook has been the aggressor, averaging 29.5 points, 12 boards and 11 assists, and he could be in line for another big night since the Blazers aren’t likely to deviate from their strategy of taking the ball out of his hands and living with others beating them. Ironically, Lillard scored just 13 points in the loss to Houston and has shot just 12-for-35 from the field, going 2-for-14 from 3-point range. The Rockets have won nine of the last 13 meetings against the Blazers and have won four of six in Portland.

Inside the Stats (Away/Home)

Points Per Game:
Houston 118.7 (118.3)
Portland 112.8 (116.3)

Points Allowed:
Houston 114.3 (117.0)
Portland 114.9 (115.7)

Away-Home Records

-- Houston 14-10 SU, 11-13 ATS
-- Portland 11-11 SU, 7-15 ATS

Situational (Western Conference Matchup)

The Rockets have a conference mark of 18-13, which ranks just seventh in the West. Improving that record is going to be essential to getting into the mix for a top seed, so it’s a good sign they’re on a 3-1 run (SU and ATS). They’ve won only two of their last seven conference road games (2-5 ATS).

The Blazers have an 11-19 mark against West foes, fourth-worst behind the Suns, Timberwolves and Warriors. The Blazers 1-7 ATS over their last eight home games and have failed to cover in any of their last four conference games. They’re 2-8 SU (1-9 ATS) over their last 10 against Western Conference opponents.

Score Projection


The Score Projections are produced daily for all NBA matchups. More...

Betcha Didn’t Know

Clint Capela grabbed 18 rebounds the last time these teams got together and the Rockets were still outrebounded 58-50, so cleaning up on the glass with a collective approach will play a huge role if Houston’s center remains sidelined. Lillard became the first Blazers player ever to top the 40-point mark in three straight games as Portland set a season-high for points. Houston has dropped its last two games to close out trips, dropping them to 4-3 in that situation this season.

NBA Expert Picks – Tony Mejia

The Blazers have really struggled to get stops of late and added Trevor Ariza to aid the cause but will still need to put in more work. With James Harden set to command attention and Russell Westbrook looking to push whenever possible, this game’s pace should be extremely fast. Portland games have featured an average of nearly 260 points over its last three games while the Rockets are likely to employ small-ball and have seen the ‘over’ prevail in three straight contests. Ride the high side.
Best Bet: Over

VI Prediction Tool

The Prediction resource gives an edge to either team in eight specific categories listed above and there are instances where both clubs receive a positive edge (). Depending on how you weigh the below factors could provide more reason to fade or follow those teams in your wagers.

VI Edge Predictions
Categories Houston Rockets Portland Trail Blazers
Eye Test
Current Form
Head-to-Head - -
Inside the Stats
Home-Away -
Score Projection - -
Betcha Didn't Know
Expert Picks - -

Total Talk (Over-Under)

Houston: 20-25-1 (Away, 10-13-1 Under)
Portland: 25-22 (Home, 14-8 Over)

The Rockets have seen the ‘over’ prevail in three straight games for just the second time this season, matching a season-high streak. The ‘under’ had been on a 5-1-1 in the previous seven Houston road games prior to this trip.

The Blazers have seen their ‘over’ run before defeating the Magic and did their part offensively in Monday’s rout. The high side is 10-4 in Miami’s last 14 home games.

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