The 2014 NBA playoffs are set to continue on Wednesday night with three more thrilling games. The first round has been nothing short of thrilling and should get even better as these teams look to pull away or even things up in their series.
The Miami Heat are seeking another win over the pesky Charlotte Bobcats before the series shifts to North Carolina, which will be followed by the Dallas Mavericks and their quest to pull an upset on the road against the San Antonio Spurs in order to tie up the series.
Rounding out the trio of contests will be the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets, with Houston desperately seeking a win at home to tie it up before a road trip.
Keep reading to check out the complete viewing guide for these contests, plus the latest odds for each game, my predictions on the winner of each and more.
|(7) Charlotte Bobcats at (2) Miami Heat||7 p.m.||TNT||MIA -10.5||Heat|
|(8) Dallas Mavericks at (1) San Antonio Spurs||8 p.m.||NBATV||SAS -8||Spurs|
|(5) Portland Trail Blazers at (4) Houston Rockets||9:30 p.m.||TNT||HOU -6||Trail Blazers|
NBA.com and ScoresAndOdds.com
Matchup to Watch: Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets
The Trail Blazers landed the first punch in a playoff bout that appears poised to go the distance, riding a combined 77 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard to an upset road victory in Houston.
It was a special performance for the Blazers, as ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh noted that the duo became the first since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1992 to score 45 and 30 in a postseason game—a feat made even more eye-popping when considering it was Lillard’s playoff debut.
The second-year guard spoke about his experience after the game, as per Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle: "I have heard things about the playoffs—that it will be intense and more physical. I felt prepared and ready. There was no reason to be nervous."
Now the Rockets will have to brush off the meltdown and rise up to even things up before taking the trek to Portland, a task that is much easier said than done. Houston seemed to have been well on the way to victory in Game 1 before blowing a 10-point lead with less than four minutes remaining.
The Rockets need to have short memories to forget that soul-crushing, heartbreaking defeat in time for this contest, and it isn’t going to be that simple. Dwight Howard, Houston’s superstar big man, described how a lack of playoff experience hurt his team, as per Haberstroh:
I just think that we had some quick shots. We got offensive rebounds and threw it out, quick shot. In the playoffs, you have to value each possession. That's something that our team is learning. A lot of guys haven't been in the playoffs that much and this is a new experience for them.
As per SportsCenter, Howard plans to demand the ball more in order to get his team going from the inside out:
Dwight Howard says Rockets have to play inside out, forcing Blazers' big men to work harder. » pic.twitter.com/mxM9O6S9Jy— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 22, 2014
Which team will win this game?
While neither side could be described as playoff-hardened or experienced, the Blazers seem to be quickly picking up on how to win at this time of year. They never gave up in the face of a serious deficit and locked down on defense when it mattered most.
Don’t be surprised if the Blazers parlay that momentum into a second straight road victory, putting the Rockets on the ropes and themselves in position to advance for the first time since the turn of the millennium.
Prediction: Trail Blazers over Rockets, 92 – 89