James Harden
James Harden has been mighty impressive so far for the Rockets.Reuters

Despite the brilliance of James Harden for the Houston Rockets, they have not been able to hit that consistent gear that teams in the NBA always strive for. The Rockets lie at the ninth place in the western conference, with six wins and five losses, and will be keen to improve upon that record as they prepare to take on Portland Trail Blazers at Toyota Center on Thursday.

Even though the Trail Blazers have been good this season, as they stand fourth, their lack of consistency is also a problem. They have not been able to gather those string of wins, which can help them gain immense confidence, thus become a feared team in the NBA. 

If the Rockets and Blazers are to pose any challenge for the NBA title, they will have to be simply more consistent.

The Trail Blazers come into this clash with two wins and two losses from their last four matches. They need to forget about their 25-point loss to the Bulls, who completely outplayed them in the last encounter. The Blazers cannot depend on just a handful of players namely Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. They need all their players, especially their first five, including Mason Plumlee, to deliver.

If they begin to play as a unit, they are going to be a huge threat to Rockets, who will once again be dependent on Harden, who has been in incredible form this season, scoring points, providing assists and leading from the front. Besides Harden, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza have also contributed with some huge points this season.

With such Rockets players who love attacking the rim and also are good shooters, the Trail Blazers have to improve upon their defense, which has been weak. They need to work on the picking up rebounds and turn that into an offense quickly. Coach Terry Scots wants his team to focus on it.

"Our defensive rebounding is a concern. It's addressed and we've got to get better and focus on it," AP quoted Scots as saying.

The Rockets also have a problem of their own. They have not been able to finish strong in some of their matches this season, which their coach Mike D'Antoni might have also addressed. Their fans will hope to see a strong game in all the four quarters against the Trail Blazers. 

Where to Watch Live

Houston Rockets vs Portland Trail Blazers is set to begin at 8 pm ET (1am GMT, 6:30 am IST next day). Live Streaming and TV guide for the NBA match is below.

India: TV: Sony Six/HD. Live Streaming: Sonyliv


Philippines: TV: ABS-CBN Sports + ActionBasketball TV

International: NBA Online