Blazers and Rockets Open First Round Playoff Series on Sunday Night

There should be no shortage of offense on display as the NBA playoffs get underway in Houston on Sunday night as the hometown Rockets host the Portland Trailblazers. These are two of the highest scoring teams in the NBA—Houston has the #2 scoring offense in the league averaging 107.7 points per game and Portland is #4 averaging 106.7 points per game. Both teams like to keep things moving along at a fast tempo and this won’t be a slow, boring defensive affair as the Blazers and Rockets are both lower tier teams in that regard. Portland has the league’s #22 scoring defense allowing 102.8 points per game with Houston just behind at #23 giving up 103.1 points per game.

The similarities continue when evaluating both teams production from three point range. Houston leads the league in three point shots attempted (26.6 per game) and made (9.5 per game). Portland, however, ranks not far behind at #3 in shots attempted (25.3) and are tied for #2 in shots made (9.4 per game). The Rockets are marginally better at defending the perimeter than Portland but not by much—Houston allows a 3 point shooting percentage of .353 with the Blazers giving up .355.

Statistically, this series looks like a ‘toss up’ and that’s underscored by the fact that these teams finished with identical regular season records at 54-28 though Houston won the head to head series and with it home court advantage. That’s the major reason why the Rockets are favored in the series. In Las Vegas, the LVH Sportsbook has them installed as a -210 favorite to win the series. Offshore, they’re -220 at Bovada and -210 at Topbet.

So is home court advantage really worth that much in this series? Portland has a reputation of being a team that is good at home and not so good on the road but that really wasn’t the case with this year’s Blazers team who were 23-18 away from the Rose City—a better record than Houston’s 21-20 mark away from home. A lot of the perceived superiority of Houston could be just that—a matter of public perception. Houston is a team that has received considerable hype by the sports media since before the season began and has higher profile superstars in Dwight Howard and James Harden.

Houston did win 3 of 4 meetings during the regular season but that notwithstanding this looks to be a dead even series. The Rockets are a -5 point favorite in Game 1 at the LVH in Las Vegas as well as at Bovada and Topbet. Both for Game 1 and the series there just doesn’t look to be that much difference between the teams as the betting odds suggest and Portland could be a good value throughout.

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