The Houston Rockets have gone all-in on their small-ball lineup. Following the trade of their star center Clint Capela, the team is now the shortest in the NBA, featuring the 6'7" Robert Covington at center.
The Blazers front court:
Carmelo Anthony (6’8 240)
Zach Collins (7’0 236)
Jusuf Nurkic (7’0 290)
Mario Hezonja (6’8 225)
Hassan Whiteside (7’0 265)
The Rockets front court:
Danuel House (6’7 220)
Robert Covington (6’7 209)
PJ Tucker (6’5 245)
Jeff Green (6’8 235)
With so many storylines being played out tonight, it will be interesting to see who gets the upper hand.
How will Carmelo Anthony fare against the fast-paced, highly versatile lineup in Houston? Will he eat against smaller opponents, or will the speed of the game make him a liability defensively?
Will Portland's big men (Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, Hassan Whiteside) be able to take advantage of the size mismatch down low, or are they too reliant on Dame and CJ?
Against Houston, Melo will be able to get his post spin to work against as long as he isn’t guarded by Roco. Also he needs to feast on second chance opportunities
Roco will likely bully Zach Collins and force him to struggle on the perimeter.
Tucker will face his most tiring opponent in Nurkic, who will be able to have his way better than other centers Tucker faces because Nurkic can control his nearly 300 pound body netter than the lighter centers in the league. However, Portland has struggled immensely going against stretch bigs during scrimmages and shown in the Memphis game.
The Blazers still have to fight for their spot in the postseason, and a win today will put them that much closer to securing their ticket.
As for Houston, they are just out to prove that they should be taken seriously in the West. With back-t0-back wins against the Mavs and Bucks, they are looking good to start this Orlando restart... but a win against a team like the Blazers will only further validate their status as title contenders.
Needless to say, a lot is riding on tonight for both teams. And though the postseason isn't starting tonight, this may very well be a preview of a matchup to come.