The Portland Trail Blazers look like a starkly different team from the iteration they fielded out last season in 2021-2022, both in terms of roster and competency.
After Damian Lillard exited for the season last year after undergoing surgery to correct a lingering abdominal injury, he returned to a completely different squad in 2022-2023, nabbing several new two-way role players and a third option in Jerami Grant as his running mates.
So far, the returns have been better than even the most optimistic Blazers fan could have expected, as Portland currently sits at 16-12, holding the fourth seed in the Western Conference at the time of writing.
They could continue their ascension and again challenge for the top spot in the conference, one that they briefly held earlier in the year. After a grueling schedule in November, their slate is supposed to get significantly easier in the rest of December including this upcoming clash against the Houston Rockets on the road.
While playing the Rockets doesn’t seem as daunting as say a matchup against the Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks, the Blazers would be wise to come into this one with a proper level of respect for a young Houston squad on the rise.
Rookie third-overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. has seemingly found his stroke and is starting to be more aptly implemented into the offense.
That, along with the continually progressing plays of young prospects Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Alperen Sengun, have made the Rockets a dangerous trap game for any team looking to breeze through a win in H-Town.
The Rockets quietly have a winning 6-5 record at home, have won six of their last ten games, and are in the midst of a two-game winning streak at the time of writing. While the Blazers should be overwhelming favorites in this one, it wouldn’t exactly be mind-blowing to see Houston notch another home victory under their belt.
Luckily for the Blazers, they’ve looked pretty dominant whenever they have all three of Damian Lillad, Anfernee Simons, and Jerami Grant available, plus they’ve quietly been better on the road than at home in the Moda Center thus far this season.
Dame and Ant should be able to take advantage of Houston’s shoddy perimeter defense to rack up deep triples and drives to the rack. Meanwhile, Portland has a plethora of long, rangy defenders that should be able to slow down Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
City views 🎥 pic.twitter.com/tu1uJLJNMJ
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 16, 2022
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| Title: Portland Trail Blazers vs Houston Rockets Betting Preview
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Dec 17, 2022