The Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers are the late game in Thursday night’s two-game NBA slate of action. If you love points, scoring, a lot of shots, and teams getting up and down the court relentlessly, this is certainly going to be the game for you to tune in to.
The Rockets and the Blazers boast the two best offenses in the league through the young season, with the Blazers coming in at the top with an average of 109.5 points per 100 possessions. Not far behind them, though, lies the Rockets, who have put up an equally impressive 107.8 points per 100 possessions so far this season.
Not only are these teams two of the best offensive squads in the league, but these two teams are also two of the best that the league has to offer in the loaded Western Conference. The Blazers currently have the second-best record in the league and the best in the conference at 18-4 while the Rockets are just three games behind at fifth in the conference at 15-7.
For the Rockets in this matchup, though, it’s their defense rather than their explosive offense that you need to keep an eye on. The Rockets are currently in the top 10 in the league in defensive efficiency, giving up just 100 points per 100 possessions. However, that certainly doesn’t give an over-arching picture of Houston’s defensive effort this season.
Defensive effort is the right term to use with Houston because effort is really what it’s all about. It’s not that they are incapable as a team, they just don’t seem to be willing to put forth 48 minutes worth of consistent defensive effort on a game-to-game basis. If you don’t by me saying that, James Harden even recently came out and said that he watched film and realized he needs to try harder on the defensive end of the floor. That’s pretty telling of this Rockets team in that area.
Against Portland, though, if the Rockets don’t stay engaged defensively, they’re likely going to fall. Even in a shootout, the Blazers just have so many players that can beat you and, if Houston isn’t committed to trying to stop them, it’s going to be an issue. On Thursday, the offense will be prominent, but defense might decide the game.