Playoff Preview: Rockets-Blazers Game 4

The NBA Playoffs continue at 9:30 p.m. on TNT as the Trail Blazers host the Rockets hoping to send the series back to Houston at 3-1 in the Western Conference first round. Before each game, we will have a quick preview of the upcoming game with a matchup to watch and a stat to chew on as you watch the game.

Previously on Lost:

Troy Daniels is still not a household name. Far from it. Except maybe in Houston.

The Rockets have to be feeling good after surviving overtime and keeping LaMarcus Aldridge to less than 40 points. That is survival pure and simple. But it is far from over. They still have to get one more game at Moda Center and survive the rest of this series. Going down 3-1 is not impossible for this team, but the odds go donw severely for this team to deliver on all that potential.

Game Three was a near collapse and a desperation heave from an unknown player. Game Four has to be better to make this a series again.

Matchup to Watch: Patrick Beverley vs. Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard had a superb Game Three with 30 points and six assists. He was superb, taking over the game at the end and leading Portland like a superstar should. The Trail Blazers will need performances like this to hold off the Rockets and put this series away. This is the time when the stars step up and put series away. A 3-1 series is very different from a 2-2 series.

Patrick Beverley is the defensive catalyst for the Rockets and he gets assignment number one on Lillard. Him and Jeremy Lin will have to step up in a big way. Both offensively and defensively.

Lin had the big offensive game in Game Three that lifted the Rockets. He is the one that will finish the game. Beverley has the one who takes individual pride and gets the defense going.

DwightHowardLakers060513Stat to Chew On: Howard’s free throws

Dwight Howard shot four of six from the foul line in Game Three. The Blazers went to the hack strategy once and Howard made his baskets. That ended that.

Howard 63.3 percent from the foul line this postseason. The stats might still say to foul Howard when the timing is right, but he is making his free throws right now. In fact, Howard shoots 59.1 percent from the foul line in wins and 54.7 percent from the foul line in losses over the course of his career. Obviously, Howard making free throws is a key part to any defensive strategy. It can completely break down if he starts clanking them off the rim.

And I do not need to remind myself of Game Four of the 2009 Finals (I am crying in the corner for the next 15 minutes).

Bloggers Corner:

Corbin Smith of Portland Roundball SocietyI know that James Harden really hurt your feelings. I agree, it should be against the rules to score 37 on the Blazers. We all love the Blazers and we wish that nothing bad would ever happen to them. But, try to look at the bright side: he took 35 shots to get there, and that’s not very efficient. I agree, it was really hard to watch him draw a bunch of fouls on Wes. I wanted Wes to keep playing too, sweetie, but Wes can’t play with six fouls. No one can! Don’t be too sad, Wes isn’t their only option on Harden. Batum has played him well, too. No, I don’t understand why Lillard got switched on him so many times, either. Hopefully they deal with that in the next game, so you won’t be sad like this.

Rahat Huq of Red94That’s the beauty of professional sports.  It’s a game of seconds, of inches, of sheer luck.  If Ray Allen doesn’t hit that miraculous ’3′ in Game 6 of the Finals last year, the narrative surrounding Lebron isn’t whether he’ll challenge for GOAT status but whether he’s one of the greatest chokers of all-time.  If Troy Daniels doesn’t hit that shot, if Jeremy Lin doesn’t scoop up the Harden turnover to find Daniels, this post would entirely be about Carmelo Anthony and the team’s summer coaching search.  Instead, we have a series again and the Rockets live to see another day.

Philip’s Running Prediction: The Blazers look poised to take control of this series with a win in Game Four. Things were really looking like it would be a 3-0 lead with the way that game was going Friday. There seems to be no reason to suspect anything else in this game before going back to Houston. Portland has consistently scored on Houston and played enough defense (what little either of these two teams seem to have). The Trail Blazers should be poised to win in six with a win tonight.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily