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Ten Before Tip: NBA News from Friday

POSTED: Apr 25, 2014 10:06 PM ET

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• The Trail Blazers will continue to run their offense through LaMarcus Aldridge, who has scored 46 and 43 points in the first two games, as they travel to Portland tonight for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series with the Trail Blazers. Houston coach Kevin McHale wouldn't reveal who will defend Portland's All-Star power forward but is expected to start 7-footer Omer Asik alongside Dwight Howard, giving the Rockets more length.

• The Rockets, in a surprising 0-2 hole against the Blazers after losing the first two games at home, will attempt to get James Harden going. The All-Star shooting guard is 14-for-47 from the field in the series. "We have to get shots for James," McHale said. "Guys have to set good screens. He has to come off screens, has to use them. Everybody has to work together to get good shots. We have to get better movement, more room, and for him to recognize how (the Blazers) are playing him and take advantage of what's there."

• The Rockets made 9½ 3-pointers a game during the regular season but are only 11-for-51 from beyond the arc in the series so far. McHale emphasizes the need for better spacing.

"We got jammed up, stopped early, didn't get wide," the Houston coach said. "It's something we've been pushing the guys all year long to do. Not a good time to be playing on top of each other. We need a lot of space out there. You have to get [the wings] into the corners and into flats. If the guys shoot it like we can, we should be able to drive from the top a little more."

• Shaun Livingston (illness) will play tonight for the Brooklyn Nets as they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at the Barclays Center. The series is tied at 1-1.

• Raptors coach Dwane Casey admitted that his team has already had to scratch a few offensive sets and defensive schemes that didn't work as he thought they would heading into the playoffs.

• Casey credited shooting guard DeMar DeRozan with bouncing back in Game 2 after having playoff debut jitters. Casey noted that sinking sweat shots -- i.e., shots that a player has to work for -- seems to have a relaxing effect.

• Nets coach Jason Kidd stressed that his team needed to put a body on the Raptors' big men and team rebound in order to mitigate the rebounding disparity between the two teams. The Raptors are plus-30 on the glass through two games.

• The early surprise of the NBA postseason returns home and does so with a 2-0 series lead. The Washington Wizards host the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of their best-of-7 series tonight at the Verizon Center. Entering the 2014 playoffs, 14 road teams have gone up 2-0 in a series since the 1983-84 season. Of those 14, 12 have gone on to win the series.

• The Wizards will host their first playoff game since 2008. "We know what we're focused on. We're locked in. We know what it means," All-Star point guard John Wall said on Friday. "We're excited to have our first playoff game here in six years. The most important thing is going out there and keep playing as a team, playing team defense and doing the things that helped us win games one and two." Washington shot at least 47 percent from the field in each of the first two games and outscored Chicago 51-34 combined in both fourth quarters. Nene leads the Wizards with 20.5 points per game.

• As for the Bulls, their struggles have primarily been offensively outside of D.J. Augustin, who averaged 20.5 points during the first two games at Chicago. However, the Wizards held the reserve guard to 35.1 percent (13-for-37) from the field.

• Chicago defeated the Wizards in Washington 96-78 on April 5 behind 25 points from Augustin. Joakim Noah added 21 points and 12 rebounds. "We've been counted out all season long, many times," coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday. "It's a resilient group. Just bounce back. We understand what goes into winning. It takes four to win a series. We're just trying to get the first one."

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