Atlanta at Portland
Time: 9:30 PM CT (TNT)
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Portland Trail Blazers are 23-31 and just one game behind No. 8 Denver for the last seed in the Western Conference, but following yesterday’s swap with the Nuggets, it now has to be wondering if Portland is, indeed, trying to make the postseason this year at all, anyway.
The Trail Blazers will be without their starting center Mason Plumlee, who was dealt with a pick for Josef Nurkic. Nurkic, too, will be unavailable for this game. Portland’s entire game plan is somewhat in question, now, with Plumlee having done a large amount of the playmaking from the 5-spot.
This is a difficult game to wager on, and both teams have been middling around with about the same success rate: Both Portland and Atlanta are 5-5 over its past 10 games. The Hawks are 14-13 on the road this season and Portland is 14-12 at home. Though Atlanta boasts winning record, it has a -0.3 point differential and surrenders 104.4 points per game.
Expect Portland’s backcourt to take this into their own hands: Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum both will be even more heavily-featured with the departure of Plumlee. That is to say, the Blazers are now almost certainly and officially a “two man team.”
But it is one hell of a backcourt. Lillard and McCollum combine to average 48.6 points per game while both post PERs over 20. With Plumlee gone, the Blazers have only two other scorers that are good for double-figures, in Allen Crabbe and Maurice Harkless. Evan Turner, too, should see more shots with Plumlee gone, though Mason was not a big shooting option anyway having attempted just 8.2 field goals per game.
The Blazers hit 10.2 threes per game while shooting nearly 36 percent as a team, and it also assists 21.9 field goals per game while scoring 107.7 points per night. If only because of that volatility and potential latent in Crabbe and even Harkless, it leans this handicapper towards favoring the home team in this one. Portland has not been playing exceptionally well, but sometimes a trade shakes things up and wakes up guys in lesser roles. That is what we expect to happen.
As for the Atlanta Hawks, Dennis Schroeder is going to have his hands full tonight with Lillard and McCollum. Not known as a good defender, Schroeder is going to have to man up with both of them at times in this game, and Kent Bazemore may have to slide to the 2-guard spot some to help out when they get hot. Given that Atlanta has not defended well and Portland has the offensive firepower to put on a show, an ‘over’ bet on the 217 is not a bad proposition.
The OVER is 4-1 in the last four Blazers games on Mondays, and the OVER is also 22-9 when its oponent gave up 100 or more the previous game. The Hawks have also had the total go over 9 of the last 11 after doing so. Expect Portland to prevail by a narrow margin with the total points hovering closer to 220.