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NBA Weekend Specials: Rockets and Blazers to step it up

Fri, Mar 24, 2:34pm by Staff Writer

James Harden will make another case for MVP honours when the Rockets host the Pelicans. The Trail Blazers will be looking to take another step towards the playoffs when they host the Timberwolves. At we are in MVP form ourselves, nailing our two selections from midweek and we’ll look to continue that success without Weekend Specials.

Pelicans @ Rockets

Toyota Centre, Houston – Saturday 25 March, 11.00am AEDT

TV: Live on ESPN

The shadow of DeMarcus Cousins looms large over the Rockets, as the Pelicans roll into town. The Pelicans are beginning to gain some momentum on the back of three wins, including a win over the Rockets in New Orleans. There will be no rest for James Harden as the All-Star guard will be looking to stay in contention for end of season MVP honours.

The Rockets are gearing up for a playoff push, and have won five out of six, the last loss coming against the Pelicans (128-112) last Saturday.

The Rockets got past the Nuggets earlier in the week off the back of Harden’s 30-point and 10 assist game. Harden hit a layup with 2.4 seconds left on the clock to give the Rockets the 125-124 win.

The Pelicans have finally found some winning form with a big win against the Grizzlies. The star of the show was Cousins who put together 41 points and 17 rebounds. It was the second time Cousins had posted 40 points and 15 rebounds this season, while Anthony Davis was equally as impressive with 13 rebounds and 19 points.

Cousins is now starting to hit his straps after the trade from Sacramento, and New Orleans have won five out of the last six games. A win against the Rockets will go a long way to keeping the playoff dream alive, but they are still four games out of a fight for the Top 8 in the West.

The Rockets go into this match as $1.34 favourite, with the Pels at $3.42 and the line seven points in the visitors’ favour.

The addition of Lou Williams gives the Rockets a deep bench rotation option. Williams and Eric Gordon continue to give good scoring options from the bench. Gordon contributed 18-points against the Nuggets earlier in the week. Look for the home court advantage to get the Rockets over the line. I’m tipping the Rockets to win on the last basket.

BEST BET: Rockets to win by 1-10 at $2.41

Timberwolves @ Trail Blazers

Moda Centre, Portland – Sunday 26 March, 1.00pm AEDT

TV: Live on ESPN

The Timberwolves head to Portland that their playoff hopes are gone for another season. The Spurs put the lights out on the Wolves’ season with a seven-point win earlier in the week. The T-Wolves have a three game road-trip that includes a stop against the Lakers on Friday before heading to Portland.

The Wolves are a much improved team with Karl-Anthony Towns averaging 24.6 points this season. There have also been moments of brilliance from Andrew Wiggins who had 22 points in the loss to the Spurs earlier this week.

The Trail Blazers have been travelling nicely winning three out of the last four games, including a tough away win against the Spurs. There was a bump in the road earlier in the week, with a close loss to the Bucks. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum led the scoring with 31 and 21 points respectively.

The Wolves play on Saturday (AEDT) away to the Lakers, while the Blazers host the Knicks on Friday AEDT. Keep on eye on those results before deciding who you will bet on.

The Blazers, who remain in the playoff picture, will start favourites here, but the market is not out as yet. We’ll keep you posted.

The home side will need to need to respond better to defensive pressure, after failing to score in the last three minutes of the game against the Bucks. Lillard and McCollum will look to apply the blowtorch to the Timberwolves defence an they may well blow this one out.

BEST BET: Trail Blazers to win and beat the line

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