Portland Trail Blazers (39-29) vs Houston Rockets (16-52)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Houston Rockets for their third and final game of a three game home stand in Portland. The Trail Blazers come into this game red hot, winning seven of their last eight, and hoping to ride that momentum as they try to get farther out of the play-in spot. The Rockets enter tonight’s game losers of five straight, and ten of their last eleven.
Monday, May 10 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Carmelo Anthony (out)
Rockets injuries: David Nwaba (out), Dante Exum (out), John Wall (out), Eric Gordon (out), Avery Bradley (out), Sterling Brown (out), Kevin Porter Jr. (out), D.J. Wilson (out), Christian Wood (questionable), Kelly Olynyk (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: The Dream Shake
What To Watch For
- Must-Win Game. For the Blazers, this game is the biggest must-win game left on their schedule. Their last three games come against three teams currently in the top four of the Western Conference, so taking care of business against the bottom-feeding Rockets is a must for Portland in this scenario. Being only one game ahead of the Lakers and owning the tie breaker is a good position to be in, but things could go south quick if the Blazers lose to the Rockets before entering the murderer’s row of teams they play in the final few days of the season.
- Damian Lillard. If there is any one player I would want to be on my side in a must win game, Damian Lillard may be the number one guy. He showed what he can do in a similar situation last year in the bubble, and this year shares some similarities with that scenario. A mini slump leads to losses the team can’t afford, then Lillard comes back with a vengeance and becomes a one man army against the rest of the league. Lillard has now scored 30 or more in his last five games, and six of his last seven, and the only way I see that streak ending is if the Blazers are winning by enough to rest Lillard for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
- Crowd Noise. The Blazers finally can have fans back in the arena, and boy does it feel good. The Blazers have been 2-0 since this, with an average 13.5 margin of victory. Small sample size sure, but Moda Center has been an advantage for the Blazers for years, hosting one of the best fan bases in the NBA, and it seems to be more of the same this season. Expect the arena to be loud, expect energy, and most of all, expect players to want to show out for their home crowd.
What Others Are Saying
Zach Allen of The Dream Shake talks about diamonds the Rockets have found in the rough during this rebuilding season.
Although the Rockets became a losing team, life was presented from Kevin Porter Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, and Jae Sean Tate. Porter was acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers for second-round pick. Tate became a surprise for the Rockets’ organization because he was undrafted and played overseas. Martin and Porter were both called up from the G-League after making a huge impression.
After losing 20 games in a row and Eric Gordon and David Nwaba to injuries, the Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 117-99. Even though the Rockets beat Raptors, they struggled to win more games. The Rockets eventually traded Oladipo for Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk. “Kelly and Avery are both guys we’ve liked for several years,” Stone said.
Olynyk became an instant spark on the court and inside the locker room. He has always supported Porter during tough shooting nights and lent his veteran’s acumen to Tate and Martin.
Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated highlighted Kevin Porter Jr.’s breakout with the Rockets in recent weeks.
Catch Porter on the right night, and you see a true star in the making. The Cavaliers’ 2019 first-round pick made his presence felt in Houston in his opening week with the Rockets, tallying 19.6 points and eight assists per game in his first five contests. April 29 marked the greatest display of his immense potential. Porter diced up the Bucks’ defense en route to 51 points and 11 assists, pulling off a pretty impressive Harden impersonation in the process. Porter drained nine threes on the night, four of the step-back variety. He euro-stepped his way to a stream of layups, and perhaps his most impressive play of the night came on a drop-off dime to Jae’Sean Tate in the final minute. Porter sports the ceiling of a future All-Star. Making that a reality is perhaps the organization’s top directive for 2021–22.