Remember way way way back last year when the pesky Houston Rockets walloped the Portland Trail Blazers in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs? In that series, Nicolas Batum came up with the kids on the twitters would say was an epic fail. Oh, what's that? Sorry. Epic fail hashtag.
Batum scored 12 points and had three rebounds... in six games. It was so bad that during the final game of the series, Batum road the pine for the majority of the night, seeing all of 2:39 of court time. Epic fail hashtag, indeed. That was Batum then, and this is Batum now. In a season full of surprises [insert hilarious Oden camera phone joke here], the explosive return of Batum has been a welcome relief to a Blazers team currently weighed down by injuries and stagnant momentum. His minutes are limited, but Batum has an excellent opportunity to redeem himself in Houston, plus take some of the load off a Blazers team dearly missing their three-time All-Star, Brandon Roy.
The Rockets are statistically a middle of the road team, scoring an average of 100.6 a game, and allowing opposing teams to score, well, 100.6 a night. They average 42 boards a game, and allow 42.6. Exciting! Unlike the Jazz, which bullied the Blazers to the point of embarrassment, the Rockets are a pretty favorable matchup for Portland. The obvious exception being Aaron Brooks, whose speedy dominance of Portland's front court still haunts Steve Blake's dreams. Just as haunting is the fact that the Rockets have won five straight in their building, and tonight is the start of a Texas back-to-back for Portland.
Nathan pointed out how Portland is both in the middle of the playoff hunt, and just a pair of losses away from tying for the 11th spot in the West. Winning in Houston is something playoff teams do. Losing in Houston would just be another indication that perhaps this team is lottery-bound after all.
TV: CSN 37