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The Waiting Game: Portland @ Houston

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Though the time has yet to be announced, we now know that the first game of the Round 2 matchup between the Lakers and the Rockets/Blazers will be Monday. Since our second round opponent has yet to be determined, we're back with the "Waiting Game" thread — and tonight's Rockets-Blazers game may have a significant impact on how the next round plays out.

Though the Houston-Portland game doesn't start until 7:30, we've got some early games in the NBA tonight. Boston at Chicago should be a great game — can the Bulls tie it up? Around the same time, Orlando at Philly is a huge question mark — can the Magic win without The Beast?

In tonight's Feature Presentation, the Rockets have to be favored at home, against a Blazers team that is typically poor on the road. But don't expect any blowouts, as Houston's two home wins have been by a combined total of four points.

And now it's time to play, "Who do you want?" Most of us seem to think we match up better with Houston — and if that is who you'd prefer to face in the second round, then you'll likely be cheering for the Rockets tonight. If Portland can pull off a win in Houston to keep the series alive, they'll be heading home with momentum, a huge confidence boost, and of course, the major home court advantage that they always enjoy in Portland. The Rockets need to end this series tonight, because their odds of winning a Game 7 in the Rose Garden are significantly lower than their chances tonight.

On the other hand, if you're like Lamar Odom, maybe you're not thinking about _who_ the Lakers play in the second round, as much as _what condition they're in_ when they get there. By Monday, the Lakers will have had a week off. If Houston closes out the series tonight, they'll have three days off before Monday's second round tipoff. But if they lose tonight, whichever team wins on Saturday will have only one day off after a grueling seven-game series, before diving right into another one, with an even better opponent.

The advantage of a Rockets win tonight is that we match up better with them. But the advantage of a Rockets loss tonight is that we'll be in better shape than our opponents in Round 2.

Pick your poison, register your vote, and settle in to see who our next round opponent could be.