By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – At the midway point of the season, the Portland Trail Blazers were just a game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Blazers went 23-18 from then on, winning nine of their last 10 games. But that wasn’t good enough to even secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Houston Rockets went 25-11 to close the season and edge Portland for the 4 seed.
This is a matchup of two of the top five offenses in the league and two franchises that have just one playoff series win in the last 13 years.
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Houston Rockets (54-28)
Pace: 98.8 (5)
OffRtg: 108.6 (4)
DefRtg: 103.1 (12)
NetRtg: +5.5 (5)
- One of two teams (the other was Minnesota) with wins over the top two seeds in each conference (Indiana, Miami, Oklahoma City and San Antonio).
- James Harden led the league with 6.9 fast break points per game.
- 72.7 percent of their shots came from the restricted area or 3-point range, by far the highest rate in the league.
- Turned the ball over 16.3 times per 100 possessions, the second highest rate in the league and the highest among playoff teams.
Portland Trail Blazers (54-28)
Pace: 97.5 (10)
OffRtg: 108.3 (5)
DefRtg: 104.7 (16)
NetRtg: +3.5 (8)
- Allowed 105.7 points per 100 possessions before the All-Star break (23rd in the league) and 103.0 after it (10th). No team improved more defensively after the break.
- Only 20.9 percent of their opponents shots were 3-pointers, the lowest opponent rate in the league.
- Forced turnovers on only 12.2 percent of their opponents’ possessions, the lowest rate in the league.
- Nicolas Batum traveled 216.0 miles this season, most in the league.
- Dwight Howard averaged 25.5 points per game against the Blazers, his highest mark against Western Conference opponents.
- Terrence Jones was a minus-45 in 49 minutes. No other Rocket had a negative plus-minus against the Blazers.
- The Blazers’ starting lineup was a plus-36 in 72 minutes against the Rockets. All other Portland lineups were a minus-62 in 125 minutes.
- Against the Blazers, Harden shot better from 3-point range (45.5 percent) than he did from the restricted area (39.1 percent).
- Harden drove five times in 10 minutes while being defended by Batum. He drove only eight times in 30 minutes while being defended by Wesley Matthews.
- See more exclusive SportVU matchup data here.