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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, April 20th (All times Eastern)

(5) Portland Trail Blazers (0-0) at (4) Houston Rockets (0-0), 9:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the league's best offensive units take center stage Sunday night when the Houston Rockets host the Portland Trail Blazers at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets are the NBA's second-ranked offense at 107.7 ppg, followed by the Trail Blazers, who are fourth with 106.9 ppg.

Houston secured the home-court advantage with a win on Monday against the NBA's best, the San Antonio Spurs.

"We fought hard for it. It took a little longer than I hoped but we knew we had to get 54 wins and we got there with one to spare," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale.

The matchup between the two squads has been decidedly in Houston's favor over the last few seasons. The Rockets have won nine of the last 12 meetings, including three of four this season.

"It's the West. We don't care who we're going to play, it's going to be tough anyway," said Portland forward Nicolas Batum. "Houston is a good team, a great team. They've got a good group of players. We match up pretty well with them. We've had good games, tough games."

The Rockets were believed to be a serious contender for an NBA title when they signed prized free agent Dwight Howard in the offseason. Along with All-Star guard James Harden, they form a formidable one-two punch.

Portland, on the other hand, was a bit of a surprise this season. The Blazers hadn't made the playoffs the last two seasons, but the core group stayed healthy and the bench improved significantly.

These two teams met in the first round back in 2009, but oh how different they both are just five years later. Houston has no players on the roster from that team, which was led by Yao Ming, while only LaMarcus Aldridge and Batum remain for the Blazers.

"It won't be easy. It is going to be fun," said Batum. "Excited finally for playoffs to start because we wait too much for that, now almost three years, so ready to start."

The Rockets got healthy at the right time. Howard missed significant time late in the season with an ankle injury and starting point guard Patrick Beverley was shelved with a knee problem. Both came back before the end of the season and should be all-clear for the playoffs.

Portland is healthy.

This matchup is so even, down to the matching 54-28 records. Each team had two All-Stars in Howard and Harden for Houston and Aldridge and Damian Lillard for Portland.

As expected due to both teams' high offensive output, defense has suffered. The Blazers ranked 22nd in opponents' scoring, while the Rockets were one rung below.

"It's going to be a great series," said Harden. "There are so many guys that can score for them and for us. It's going to be a matter of the small things: who can limit their turnovers and rebound the basketball."

04/20 10:39:24 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 3
DUR 5
 
Final
PIT 0
CAR 10
 
5:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
7:35pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
CIN 7
CHC 2
Final
DET 3
NYY 2
Final
SFG 4
COL 1
Final
BAL 5
TAM 4
Final
NYM 1
ATL 6
Final
CWS 2
CLE 3
Final
KAN 5
MIN 11
Final
HOU 4
TEX 2
Final
ANA 4
OAK 3
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
BAL
MIN
 
7:07pm Tonight
TOR
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
BOS
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
PHI
 
7:35pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
CLE
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
DET
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
TEX
 
8:15pm Tonight
STL
CHC
 
9:40pm Tonight
ARI
COL
 
10:05pm Tonight
ANA
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
LOS
 
10:10pm Tonight
SEA
WAS
 
10:15pm Tonight
SFG
MIL
 
Final
SCAR 28
TEXAM 52
Final
LAMON 17
WAKE 10
Final
MISS 35
BSU 13
Final
TULSA 38
TULA 31
Final
WASU 38
RUTG 41
Final
ARST 45
WEBER 14
Final
VANDY 7
TEMPL 37
7:00pm Tonight
UCONN
BYU
7:30pm Tonight
WKENT
BGU
7:30pm Tonight
MSU
JVST
9:00pm Tonight
COL
COLST
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
TXSANANTO
10:30pm Tonight
ARZ
UNLV
Final
JAC 14
ATL 24
 
Final
BUF 0
DET 23
 
Final
CIN 35
IND 7
 
Final
GBP 34
KAN 14
 
Final
PHI 37
NYJ 7
 
Final
MIA 14
STL 13
 
Final
PIT 0
CAR 10
 
Final
NYG 16
NEP 13
 
Final
TAM 10
WAS 24
 
Final
NOS 13
BAL 22
 
Final
CLE 33
CHI 13
 
Final
DAL 3
DEN 27
 
Final
TEN 3
MIN 19
 
Final
HOU 13
SFX 40
 
Final
SDC 12
ARI 9
 
Final
OAK 41
SEA 31
 
Final
NOR 3
DUR 5
 
5:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
7:35pm Tonight
NOR
DUR