Another good set of games on the Thursday night slate on TNT tonight. The first match puts the Los Angeles Clippers against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have seemed to hit a stride after getting back Paul Pierce and Deron Williams. Hopefully the Nets will be able to put together a winning streak now that they have their starting five healthy again. For the Clippers, it is all about how Blake and CP3 will be able to dominate their matchups and put the team on their shoulders and carry them.
With that said the game of the night to me is between Houston and Portland from the Moda Center tonight. Two teams with winning records. One team with two superstars looking to prove critics wrong and possibly win a championship in the near future. The other team, is a up and coming team who are looking to find their identity, while winning and gaining vital experience with their young nucleus. With that said, the biggest story line is the trade rumors surrounding both teams exchanging parts possibly to better their championship aspirations.
The Rockets have to do something with Omer Asik. Dwight Howard looks to have regained his dominance on the defensive end again, while still looking to gain some resemblance of a post-game in the process. He needs help in the middle, whether it be with a stretch power forward or a energy guy willing to play along side him in the post. It would help the outside shooters, such as Harden and Parsons, to get better looks from the arc and exploit the defense in many ways with their talent. Asik was supposed to help, but unfortunately for the Rockets, he does not want to play second fiddle to Dwight Howard. And honestly, I cannot blame him.
The Blazers on the other hand have too much going in their direction to think about messing up the chemistry right now. Robin Lopez is the perfect compliment to LaMarcus Aldridge. Lopez’s size and energy allow Aldridge to play the power forward spot and terrorize the opposing teams lack of an inside presence every night. The key piece to the puzzle is the fact that Damian Lillard is starting to grow into a true point guard right before our eyes. If he continues to play this way, we might begin to talk about him being the best point guard in the league on both ends of the floor, and we can thank Gary Payton for that.
The Pick: The game will be close and with it being in Portland you can expect an amazing finish to the game. I am going with the Blazers to pull out the hard fought win against the Rockets tonight, 110 – 107. The Blazers have not forgotten that one of their four losses this season came at the hands of the Rockets in convincing fashion, 116 – 101. Lillard goes for the triple double tonight for the icing on the cake.
National TV: TNT
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET