Date/Time: April 5, 2013 10:30 PM ET
Moneyline: Houston -4
Preview by Dave Price
The Portland Trail Blazers can start making vacation plans. They have lost their last six games and will be missing the postseason for the second straight season.
The Houston Rockets have won three in a row and eight of 11 and will almost certainly be heading back to the playoffs after a three-year absence.
The two Western Conference foes will battle it out Friday in Portland at 10:30 PM ET. ESPN has the television coverage.
The Rockets, who went 34-32 in last season’s lockout-shortened campaign, are 42-33 this season. They have benefited from the acquisitions of James Harden and Jeremy Lin.
Harden is averaging 25.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Lin is averaging 13.0 points, 3.0 boards and 6.1 assists per contest.
Both players were instrumental in Wednesday’s 112-102 win in Sacramento. Harden had 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Lin had a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.
The Rockets won the most recent meeting with Portland 118-103 on Feb. 8 in Houston behind a huge game from Harden, who had 35 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
While the Rockets got the best of the Trail Blazers that day, Portland actually leads the season series 2-1. It earned overtime wins against Houston Nov. 3 and Nov. 16.
Rookie Damian Lillard has been the big story for Portland this season, and he was instrumental in both wins against the Rockets. He had 20 points and nine assists in the first meeting and 27 points and five assists in the second. The leading candidate for Rookie of the Year is averaging 19.0 points and 6.5 assists.
Lillard will likely need another big game for Portland to end its losing streak and win the season series with Houston. That’s because Nicolas Batum is likely out the rest of the season with a shoulder injury and LaMarcus Aldridge has been dealing with an ankle injury.
While it appears Houston has the advantage, we can’t ignore that it is only 15-22 on the road this season. The Blazers are 22-14 at home but have lost their last three at the Rose Garden.
*Note: I am not giving away a free pick on this game because I have a premium pick on it. Be sure to check it out here.
Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.