NBA Betting Odds — Rockets Need to Solve the Aldridge Puzzle if They Want to Survive

Whether he’s been operating on the inside or the outside, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been unstoppable for the Houston Rockets in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. It seems Houston was not ready for him at all, but they had better come up with a plan to deal with him if they have any hope of advancing to the next round of play. The Rockets are down two games to none as they lace up the shoes for a date at the Moda Center on Friday night, as NBA betting action gets underway at 10:35 PM ET.

Aldridge set a franchise record for points in a playoff game with 46 in Game 1, which was a 122-120 overtime victory for the Blazers at the Toyota Center. The University of Texas product then followed up 43 points as Portland got off to a 2-0 lead with a 112-105 victory in Wednesday night’s Game 2. It was a beautiful display of the mid-range game, which seems to be a lost art in the NBA. Of course, that is not the only problem Houston has as it faces what is more or less a do-or-die-game.

In the NBA betting odds that have been placed on this contest by the people at WagerWeb, Portland is laying a small number at home:

Portland Trail Blazers -2.5
Houston Rockets +2.5

Over 214.5 points -110
Under 214.5 points -110

This is a new experience for the Blazers, who have not won the first two games of a playoff series since back in 1977. And they know they have put Houston’s back to the wall, because only three times in league history has a team come back to win a series after losing the first two games at home. Portland is a club that is used to laying more points than this on their home floor; they are 31-10 straight-up at the Moda Center, but against the basketball pointspread they are just 19-22.

All-Star center Dwight Howard thinks his team can get out of the hole it is currently in. He did his part in Game 2, scoring 32 points and adding 14 rebounds, in what was an inspired offensive performance. But certainly Aldridge has presented a defensive puzzle for him and his teammates that is been almost impossible to solve. In the first game Aldridge concentrated on scoring points from in close, but he has the ability to draw his man to the outside, and he did just that in Portland’s second win, making thirteen shots from at least ten feet away from the hoop. Now NBA playoff bettors are wondering whether Aldridge can score more than 40 for a third game in a row. Somehow the three-time defensive player of the year (Howard) is going to have to assert himself more.

Another dilemma the Rockets have to address, as WagerWeb customers are well aware, is the ineffectiveness of James Harden, the All-Star guard. Thus far in the series he has been flummoxed and frustrated, taking way more shots than usual (he averaged only 16.5 per game during the regular season), but has gone just 14 of 47 from the field. Houston is the team that is supposed to have the defensive stoppers, like Howard and guard Patrick Beverley, but it is the Blazers who have put together this scheme to give Harden so much difficulty. They are not giving him good shots, and consequently he’s forcing many of them. Harden says he is more concerned about the team’s defense, particularly against Aldridge, then he is about his offense. Yet, he was very upset when asked about his shooting at the post-game press conference. Portland would be perfectly content to give him all the shots he wants – as long as they are not from anywhere on the floor he really likes to be.

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