The Portland Trail Blazers come into this game with patchy form, to say the least. In their last five games, they have only won twice, with their most recent match ending in a close defeat to a rebuilding OKC Thunder.
Due to their form before these matches, the Blazers were expected to be one of the best sides in a stacked Western Conference. However, after serious injuries to several key players, it will be difficult for the franchise to uphold that reputation. They currently sit 5th in the conference, with a record of 9-7.
On the other hand, after a frankly abysmal start to the campaign and a convoluted transfer saga involving James Harden, the Houston Rockets look like a team rejuvenated. Despite being just 11th in the West at the moment, they have a 3-game winning streak going and are quickly rising up the table.
The Rockets currently have an average-looking record of 7-9. However, with the team in such splendid form, the players will be confident about their chances of securing one more win at the end of this clash.
Fixture: Portland Trail Blazers vs Houston Rockets - NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Thursday, 28th January 2021 - 7:30 PM ET (Friday, 29th January 2021 - 6:00 AM IST)
Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Portland Trail Blazers Preview
This could be a tough one for the Portland Trail Blazers.
A large part of what has made the franchise so resilient this season has been the presence of Robert Covington. Unfortunately, the player suffered a concussion prior to the franchise's game against the OKC Thunder and will continue his stint on the sidelines.
Additionally, the franchise will be without CJ McCollum (foot), Nurkic (wrist), and Rodney Hood (thigh) as well.
With the team essentially lacking quality on both ends of the floor, the available players will need to outwork the Houston Rockets on every possession to stand a fighting chance of winning this game.
Key Player - Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard has been an excellent performer for the Portland Trail Blazers this season. However, due to the situation his team is in, he will have to go above and beyond what he has shown so far.
The 30-year-old is currently averaging 28.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.0 assists while shooting 44.7% from the field and 37.4% from beyond the arc.
A win against the Houston Rockets will be tough for the franchise. However, given the offensive exploits that Lillard is capable of, it certainly won't be off the cards.
Portland Trail Blazers Predicted
G Damian Lillard, G Gary Trent Jr., F Derrick Jones Jr., F Carmelo Anthony, C Enes Kanter
Houston Rockets Preview
The Houston Rockets have been flying this season.
The franchise looks incredible on both ends of the floor. Defensively, there is enough quality in the roster to be able to hold off some of the best attacks in the NBA. On the offensive end, the franchise is spoiled for firepower, with the likes of Victor Oladipo, John Wall, and Christian Wood playing excellently.
Overall, while the Rockets can be inconsistent at times, their recent winning streak speaks for itself. There is little reason to believe that the team can't keep the momentum going during their clash against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Key Player - John Wall
After suffering a disastrous Achilles injury and being sidelined for almost 2 years, many in the NBA community expected John Wall to be a shadow of his former self. However, he has come out of his injury with guns blazing.
The 30-year-old is averaging 17.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists while shooting an efficient 44.2% from the field.
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He has been one of the best players for the Houston Rockets this season and will undoubtedly play a pivotal role for the franchise against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Houston Rockets Predicted Lineup
G John Wall, G Victor Olaipo, F Eric Gordon, F Christian Wood, C DeMarcus Cousins
Portland Trail Blazers vs Houston Rockets Match Prediction
The odds are stacked against the Portland Trail Blazers in this fixture. They just have too many key players sidelined with injuries at the moment. When one also considers the fact that the Houston Rockets have been clicking together splendidly in recent games, the probable result becomes clearer for everyone to see.
While it isn't impossible for the Portland Trail Blazers to steal this game, the Houston Rockets will go into the match as heavy favorites to take the win.