The Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets 4-5 Western Conference matchup is the greatest fire and water contrast within the 2009 NBA Playoffs. The Portland Trail Blazers are a popular Internet sensation of youth, perimeter scoring, and frenetic basketball, whereas the fifth seeded Houston Rockets are suddenly a physically imposing group of rugged front court players led by a coach in Rick Adelman that headed these very same Blazers well before the time that the masses had ever heard of anything called the Internet.
This series should be a battle, as evidenced by the November 6, 2009 101-99 Trail Blazer overtime thriller. Brandon Roy shook loose to launch a buzzer beating 30 foot shot with perfect form to carry the day for Portland in what may be described as the game of the year. Let’s hope that this series is half as exciting.
These are the three key match ups that will determine the outcome of this 2009 Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers NBA Playoffs Series:
#3 2009 Portland – Houston NBA Playoffs Key Match Up: Yao Ming Versus Portland Front Line
The Portland Trail Blazers have no answer for Yao Ming.
Joel Przybilla, Greg Oden, Channing Frye, and even LaMarcus Aldridge will take turns getting dominated in the post and racking up fouls. Yao, along with Dwight Howard and Shaq are the final throwbacks to a dying breed of true big men that live in the paint.
Yao will destroy the Blazers one on one on the block and is quite capable of picking apart the double team with his improved interior passing. Yao’s only weakness pertaining to this series is the fact that he cannot pass the ball to himself. The departure of Rafer Alston to the Orlando Magic leaves these Rockets weak at point guard.
The diminutive Aaron Brooks actually leads Houston with a meager 3 assists per game.
The Rockets must make a concerted effort to deliver the basketball to Yao in the post and allow him to reset and feed him the ball yet again if he is forced to pass out of any double teams. This is basic rec ball strategy and should be mere child’s play for professional hoopers.
#3 2009 Portland – Houston NBA Playoffs Key Matchup: Yao Ming Versus Portland Front Line
Advantage: Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets
#2 2009 Portland – Houston NBA Playoffs Key Matchup: Portland Youth Movement versus Houston Hunger
Basketball obsessed Portland returns to the NBA Playoffs for the first time in five years, while the Houston Rockets remain a postseason stalwart – of the first round. 2007-2008 was especially devastating, considering the fact that Houston had rattled off an impressive streak of 22 straight wins during the regular season, only to be bounced 4-2 to Utah amidst a first-round series in which they were never quite competitive.
Ron Artest has been brought in to install a level of toughness to this regime, and much had been made of a ballyhooed Big Three featuring himself, Tracy McGrady, and Yao Ming. Of course, T. Mac was done for the season in February and those undercurrents will make or break the legacies of these three stars.
Is Tracy McGrady too soft to make it out of the first round?
Is Yao Ming and the behemoth center position obsolete in the modern NBA?
Is Ron Artest a real winner or a nutcase?
Artest and Yao are hell bent upon diffusing these issues in the affirmative with their heady play – while the Portland Trailblazers will soon learn that their regular season run and gun shenanigans do not equate to NBA Playoff success.
#2 2009 Portland – Houston 2009 NBA Playoffs Key Matchup: Portland Youth Movement versus Houston Hunger:
Advantage: Houston Rockets
#1 2009 Portland – Houston NBA Playoffs Key Matchup: Brandon Roy Versus Ron Artest
Brandon Roy is the most underrated wing player in the National Basketball Association.
Roy is an All-Star caliber guard and dark horse MVP candidate that averages 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per ball game to lead this young club. Perhaps the lack of respect is due to the sign of the times and basic geography. Roy lacks the uber flashy athleticism and “me first” prima donna syndrome that is a mark of athletic celebrity. The Seattle native and University of Washington alumni has also spent his entire playing career as a stalwart of the Pacific Northwest.
Quite frankly, much of the Nation is asleep while Brandon Roy performs.
Opposing Roy is Ron Artest, the NBA’s premier resident hot head and Bad Boy. To the casual observer, Artest is more infamous for his egregious participation in the embarrassing Detroit Palace melee than he is for his impressive charity work, superior defense, versatile scoring, and fiery leadership. Although both players measure out at a height of 6’6 – Artest outweighs Brandon Roy by 60 pounds and will look to outmuscle his counterpart with physical, yet clean play.
Certainly, officiating will let the men play on.
These are the NBA Playoffs.
#1 2009 Portland – Houston NBA Playoffs Key Matchup: Brandon Roy versus Ron Artest
Advantage: Ron Artest and the Houston Rockets
2009 NBA Playoffs Portland Trail Blazers versus Houston Rockets Prediction:
Houston Rockets – 4
Portland Trail Blazers – 1
Portland is too pretty to win in the Playoffs. Portland will not get the calls and the liberal NBA Playoff officiating will effectively shut down the young, high octane Blazers act. This scenario plays right into Houston’s hands.
2009 NBA Playoffs Portland – Houston Preview, Sources:
The Official Web Site of the NBA, http://www.nba.com/playoffs2009/
The Official Site of the Houston Rockets, http://www.nba.com/rockets/tickets/Splash_041709_PlayoffOnsale-310014-1664.html
The Official Web Site of the Portland Trail Blazers, http://www.nba.com/blazers/ripcityuprisecentral2.html