SportVU Preview: Houston Rockets (4) vs Portland Trail Blazers (5)
The Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers face off in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 opening round matchup in the Western Conference playoffs. The series tips off with Game 1 on Sunday, Apr. 20 in Houston (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT). The teams finished the regular season with identical 54-28 records, but the Rockets earned home-court advantage by winning season series three games to one.
We take a closer look at some of the key matchups in this series with the help of SportVU player tracking technology. The SportVU data allows us to look at specific player vs. player matchup stats in a variety of categories such as drives, rebounds, the amount of time each defender spent guarding a player and much more. Of the two Blazers (Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews) that spent the most time guarding Rockets guard James Harden, which one performed better? Check out the stats below to find the answer.
And for additional statistical analysis on this first round matchup, be sure to check out John Schuhmann's numbers breakdown on NBA.com.
|D. Howard||R. Lopez||29:51||7||17-32||53%||0-0||0%||10||8-13||2||3||0||42|
|D. Lillard||P. Beverley||29:51||0||11-21||52%||5-10||50%||3||4-6||17||1||2||31|
|J. Harden||W. Matthews||29:36||1||11-19||58%||5-9||56%||10||8-9||8||0||3||35|
|W. Matthews||J. Harden||29:08||2||9-24||38%||4-12||33%||2||0-2||4||1||1||22|
|C. Parsons||N. Batum||28:27||0||8-22||36%||2-7||29%||0||0-0||16||2||1||18|
The Blazers didn't have an answer for James Harden this year in the regular season, with Matthews and Batum both failing to limit his productivity while attacking the basket or shooting from the perimeter. The Rockets seemed to target the matchup with Batum when they had the opportunity, as Harden's output per minute of matchup time drastically increased when he was guarded by Batum.
|Wesley Matthews||Nicolas Batum|
Both Lillard and Lin are among the top 15 players in the NBA in drives per game at 7.7 and 7.4 respectively, but Lillard held the upper hand in games against each other this season. Despite being matched up against Houston's best perimeter defender, Lillard had 38 drives and scored 33 points on these drives while Lin had just 11 points on 22 drives.
|Player||Primary Matchup||Time||Drives||Drive Pts||PPD||Tot Drives||Tot Drive Pts||Tot PPD|
The Trail Blazers have two of the NBA's top five players in total 3-point attempts in Lillard and Matthews, but the pair shot just 37% in their four games against the Rockets defense this season.
In spite of his offensive success, Lillard was dominated on the defensive glass where Beverley grabbed seven offensive boards when matched up Lillard. Lillard gave up 10 offensive rebounds in total, which was more than both Beverley and Lin combined.
The frontcourt tandem of Lopez and Aldridge had over twice as many blocks as Howard and Jones combined for, but they were also far less effective on dribble drive penetration and keeping the opposing bigs off the free throw line.