I admit it, the Rockets were
beaten by the better team at home robbed. The Blazers were sinking drowning on offense in the first half last night and the refs kept us afloat until the third quarter. We were shooting less than 40% FG in the first half but only down one point. The 17-0 halftime free throw disparity kept the game close saved us from being down double digits. In the second half the refs evened out the FT's and fouls and I'm sure you Rocket fans are wondering what might have happened if you went into halftime up double digits but you can't make up for lost opportunity. The last call that got Howard ejected was one of many ridiculously bad calls that compromised the integrity of the game. What I don't understand is if the calls were so bad then why were the Rockets up by one at halftime with zero free throw attempts but lost the game after getting 40 shots from the stripe in the second half.
Personally, I hate when the refs make so many calls that the game becomes a free throw contest but last night's game was a blood curdling thriller. I ain't mad at that. The Blazers are
barely the better team and the better team won last night. The Blazers are going on to win this series. Here are three reasons why.
1. The Blazers have the firepower to outscore Houston. Dame and LMA
torched you MF'ers are serious matchup problems for Houston and Mo off the bench shoots too much but is usually highly effective. The other role players give us enough to outscore Houston on any given night. Harden, Howard, and Parson's would actually all be starters in Portland will all consistently outscore their starting defender but these games are going to be close and in crunch time Howard's offensive presence (FT's) can actually hurt his team. LMA and Dame are stars that will cut your throat like the Grim Reaper when it's time are much more reliable late in the 4th quarter.
2. The Blazers have the length to absorb the impact of Harden and Howard in the paint. LMA, Lopez, Freeland, and Robinson
pounded your Rockets last night are all highly active and effective defensive posts and I don't see us getting completely decimated and destroyed by Dwight Howard, getting our backs broke, over worked in the paint this series. We aren't going to stop Howard from scoring or take away a large numbers of points in the paint from Houston but Howard is stiff as a pair of shrink to fit jeans and has no confidence in his post moves our defense will drop the Rockets FG%. Howard and Harden aren't going to get bailed out by the refs all series long is not going to average 59% from the field like he shot in the regular season against our collection of posts because they play with savagery on defense.
The addition of 6' 10" Joel Freeland back into the rotation gives Portland
someone who has proved next to nothing in the NBA an aggressive big man who clogs the lane defensively, gets offensive rebounds and tapouts, and is a strong passer. I'm going to look so smart if I'm right about Freeland having a significant impact on the series. He doesn't put up good numbers but he does the little things that help a team win and I'm hoping he will get more minutes this series. I'm hoping Harden doesn't drop a couple 40 point games on us but Eventually Harden is going to get red hot, but Batum's 7' 1" wingspan was draped all over him and choked him out last night proved to be effective on Harden in game one and we should continue to slow his dribble penetration production throughout the series.
3. Portland has better coaching than Houston.
Houston plays kind of stupid because James Harden forces things too much We play with a more sophisticated offense that is a team oriented passing attack anchored by LMA's post game and Dame running pick-&-rolls and launching threes. In the playoffs LMA is working the low block more but I have to wonder if Aldridge has the toughness to drive to the rim another ten times next game frequently giving us a powerful and physical presence in the paint that we've never seen before. Your Rockets feature a one-on-one dribble penetration game featuring Harden's reckless relentless attacks to the basket. I don't see Houston get the ball to Howard enough using special sets or plays to utilize your talented back court. Instead Harden the team forces shots. Harden who throws his head back, flails his arms, and flops each time he drives dominates opponents with some amazing drives and leads the way as Houston was best in the NBA in giving away steals scoring.
It appeared that Coach McKale had
no clue on what adjustment to make to stop LMA from kicking his team's ass not prepared different options in dealing with Aldridge attacking the rim from the low post. We definitely had a game plan for Harden who was broke shot 8/28 and that planning was a major advantage for us last night. These games are going down to the wire with the referees dictating the course of the game for our advantage close scores and Portland has a more surgical offense where Lillard and his sharp shooters run nice guard sets to manufacture open rhythm shots. Harden and Howard stayed away from the pick and roll last night because Howard hates the pick and roll for some reason and that seems like a blunder.
might sweep you guys if we catch fire is barely better than Houston, but better none the less and we will somehow win this series.