Blazers-Rockets Playoff Preview: Five Key Factors

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CarlesimoI was listening to P.J. Carlesimo on the radio yesterday morning (how many of y’all remember that he guided the Brooklyn Nets last season?), and he made a good point. Almost never is there an upset in a 4 vs. 5 series. The teams are usually too evenly matched.

In this case,  we have two teams that finished with identical 54-28 records.

Houston gets the home court by virtue of winning the season series 3-1. And if they get past the Blazers, they move into the second round against the San Antonio Spurs (baring a major upset by Dallas) knowing they had the Spurs’ number this season, sweeping them 4-0.

Bernucca: Have Pacers Lost Belief in Themselves?

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Believe it or not, there’s someone out there who doesn’t think the Indiana Pacers are coming apart at the seams. Lance Stephenson

“Everybody goes through this,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said last week after San Antonio manhandled Indiana, 103-77, on the Pacers’ home court. “I’m not worried about them. They’ll still make it to the Eastern Conference finals and they’ll still play Miami.”

Parker is somewhat right. From time to time, every championship contender has a stretch during a season where they look ordinary. Addled. Even awful at times.

Last month, the Miami Heat lost three in a row and seven of 11, including a home contest to Denver and a visit to New Orleans after which Chris Bosh plainly said, “We suck.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook as they came out of the All-Star break and immediately lost three straight and five of eight, including a home loss to Cleveland and a road setback to the L.A. Lakers. The Houston Rockets were a pedestrian 8-8 in December, losing at home and on the road to Sacramento, at Utah and being blasted at Oklahoma City and Indiana.

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SH Blog: Big-3 to hold end of season meeting; Hibbert says Pacers don’t deserve 1-seed;

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lebron-wade1The playoffs may be just right around the corner, but when talking about the bigger picture when it comes to the landscape of the NBA, it all starts with the Miami Heat.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all have the ability to opt-out of the last year of their contracts with the Heat on June 30th, thus potentially making them free agents at the end of the season.   

Sprung: Jeremy Lin won’t cut it for Rockets with Patrick Beverley out

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JeremyLinSH1Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons are the big-name players, but the Houston Rockets would not be a top-four team in the Western Conference without Patrick Beverley.

Houston is 36-16 when Patrick Beverley starts, but they will miss him for at least two weeks (and likely for the duration of the regular season) with a torn meniscus. His replacement is one Jeremy Lin.

You remember him, right?

Even if Beverley doesn’t have the best offensive and defensive numbers, it doesn’t seem likely that Lin has the skill set to adequately replace what Beverley does for this team.

“Obviously we’re going to miss Pat’s defensive intensity and passion and the energy he brings every single possession,” Parsons told SheridanHoops.

SH Blog: Beverley potentially lost for the season, Woodson says Anthony would be MVP candidate if Knicks’ record was flipped

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Patrick BeverleyWhen the Houston Rockets have their full starting lineup intact, they are capable of being one of the best teams in the league. Since late January, they have won 19 of the last 24 games and have established an identity as a team to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, their hopes of being a powerhouse in the West in the playoffs took a major hit on Friday with the news that point guard Patrick Beverley could miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury, from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley could be lost for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his right knee, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Beverley, 25, will get a second opinion on the injury soon, sources said, and then it’ll be determined whether there’s possibly a rehabilitation process that could expedite his return before the end of the NBA playoffs, sources said.