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Rockets vs. Trail Blazers Preview

The Blazers will try to bounce back against the very young Rockets.

Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (4-1) vs. Houston Rockets (1-4)

The Portland Trail Blazers have two challenges facing them on Friday that they haven’t had previously this season. First, they’ll have to play without their superstar Damian Lillard, expected to be out at least one or two weeks with a relatively mild calf injury. Second, they need to bounce back from a loss after finding themselves on the wrong side of a 119-98 score against the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Houston Rockets got off the schneid on Monday when they defeated the Utah Jazz for their only win of the season. The winning feeling didn’t last though as they lost in their last outing to the same Jazz team on Wednesday by a score of 109-101.

Friday, October 29 - 7:00 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, ATTSN-SW, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Gary Payton II (out), Olivier Sarr (out), Trendon Watford (out)

Rockets injuries: Bruno Fernando (out), TyTy Washington Jr. (out), Alperen Sengun (questionable)

SBN Affiliate: The Dream Shake

The Matchup

Anfernee Simons. With Damian Lillard out it’s a good opportunity for Simons to remind everyone just what he’s capable of. After a slow shooting start to the regular season, Simons really came alive against Denver, shooting 64.7% from the field and 58.3% from deep. In the loss to Miami he came back to earth some, but Houston’s rather porous defense is a good launch pad for Simons to find ignition and blast into orbit once again.

  • Clean the boards. Houston is shooting at a 41.9% clip from the field, just fractionally above the Lakers and the Thunder, the two worst teams in the NBA at shooting so far this season. That means lots of available rebounds. That partly explains why the Rockets are tied for first in the young season in offensive rebounds at 14.8 per game. There are a lot of opportunities for boards, so Portland needs to make sure that they don’t allow second chance points. If the Blazers succeed they will be in prime position to win this game.
  • Be the better team. DraftKings has the Blazers as 5 point favorites as of this writing and that’s knowing that Dame will be in street clothes. After a very shaky preseason and so many questions about how this team might fit together, few would have predicted a 4-1 start. It’s not just the record though that has impressed, it’s that they’ve largely passed the eye test. Now we need to see them take care of business as a solid favorite on their home court against an inexperienced Rockets team widely perceived to be inferior. A solid team should jump on Houston and not give them much oxygen. Time to do it.

What Others Are Saying

Xiane of The Dream Shake reminds everyone of just how young the Rockets are.

I wrote a story back in 2012 for this very blog (Yes, I know.) about just how inexperienced that Rockets team was. One of the facts I noted was that the Rockets coach, Kevin McHale, had played more NBA minutes (by about 750) than the entire Rockets starting lineup. (Daryl Morey even referenced this piece, but as is our fate, he attributed it to Clutch Fans.)

I may do similar analysis, but I will note that that the nine young players being developed by the Rockets right now have all of nine full years of NBA experience combined.

After getting their first win of the season against the Utah Jazz on Monday, the Rockets lost to the same team on Wednesday. SI’s Coty Davis explores why.

Silas attributed the Rockets’ defeat to an abundance of isolation. He said the Jazz took the loss inside Toyota Center personal. And after making adjustments, Utah spent more time helping on the defensive side of the ball to prevent Houston from scoring easy buckets.

The extra effort the Jazz gave on the defensive side of the ball resulted in Houston making tough decisions on offense.

Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. are giving Houston fans something to be optimistic about. James Piercey at The Dream Shake asks the long term question.

Those numbers leave room for improvement, but they’re still encouraging. At the same time, nobody should have questioned either’s talent. But are they a good fit alongside one another?