Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers
Date/Time: December 12, 10:30 p.m. EST
The Portland Trail Blazers are making their case for the most improved this team of the season. With an 18-4 record the Trail Blazers have jumped out of the gates and currently hold down the top spot in the Western Conference. On Thursday night that fast start will be tested as they go into battle with Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets.
The Portland Blazers are off to a quick start because the team is playing unselfish basketball. Talented players on this team do not always have to score or light up the stats sheet when they take to the floor on a nightly basis.
Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum can score but in his latest performance he matched a season-high with 11 assists in just 33 minutes, setting up his teammates. He showed great maturity by realizing he was not shooting well from the floor so set out to get his teammates into scoring position.
The Houston Rockets acquired Dwight Howard in the offseason, but it has yet to pay off this season, especially in crunch time. The Rockets have played in 11 games where they were either up or down by five points or less inside the last five minutes. In those games, the Rockets are 6-5.They get crushed on the board in those situations (27th in defensive rebounding percentage in clutch time), they defend poorly (26th in points per possession allowed) when it comes to the most important time of the game. The big man and the rest of the team will have to do better if they hope to get more wins in the near future.
The Blazers know how to clean the boards in any situation. Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge turned in another dominant performance in the paint as he notched his 10th double-double of the season Friday night against the Jazz. Although it was just the Jazz, the Blazers have been dominating on the boards all season long.
The latest NBA basketball trends reveal just how good the Blazers have been of late. The Trail Blazers are 5-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last 5 Thursday games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 against the Western Conference and the Trail Blazers are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games overall.
Portland has a very good basketball team and the fast start is for real. The Rockets are still learning how to play together as a team. The Trail Blazers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games and they will be in good shape to get another win on national television when they host Howard and the Rockets.
Free NBA Pick: Portland Trail Blazers
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.