Portland at New Orleans
Time: 8 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: NOP -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The New Orleans Pelicans may just be “for real,” yet. New Orleans won both its road games in Portland to take a 2-0 series lead as the action shifts to New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center for games 3 and 4. If Anthony Davis has much of a say, and he does, the series could very well end there as a Pelicans’ sweep.
New Orleans enters Game 3 as just 3-point favorites, but the Pelicans have mostly dominated this series against a higher seeded Portland Trail Blazers team. The over/under is set at 216 points by NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the game will tip off at 8 PM (Central) on NBA TV for cable and league pass subscribers.
This series’ story is mostly one of Jrue Holiday and Davis. Portland has had little to no answer for Davis’ frontcourt dominance, using its collection of ragtag bigs to keep up with the lightning-quick Davis. Meanwhile, Holiday has put the clamps on one-time playoff hero Damian Lillard. Add these two isolated things together with a little help from their teammates, and the result has been two easy Pelicans wins. Holiday had a team-high 33 points and nine assists in the Game 2 win, while Davis had 22 points, 13 rebounds, two steals and two blocks while posting a +10 differential, actually the lowest mark of any New Orleans starter.
The Beardless Nikola Mirotic had 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting, and Rajon Rondo continued his somewhat surprising resurgence with more solid backcourt defense while nearly posting a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine boards. The Pels shot 51.2 percent from the field and 12 of 24 from three, while assisting 25 buckets to its mere 14 turnovers. Conversely, Portland was a respectable 45 percent, 12 of 32, and 16 turnovers to its 20 assists. The Blazers had a respectable offensive showing, but it will not win many series games by giving up 111 points; the firepower from Portland just is not there to match that, not with Lillard managing just 17 points and missing nearly two-thirds of his shots (7 of 18).
McCollum was hardly better as he shot 9 of 21 and was responsible for two turnovers. Lillard had seven. Portland’s backup bigs simply are not good enough to cover Davis, and starter Jusuf Nurkic is not either.
Nurkic saw just 15 minutes in the game despite only having one foul, largely because Portland head coach Terry Stotts is still searching for a defensive answer to Davis. He likely won’t find one, and that is why we feel confident in projecting a Pelicans’ sweep, which of course, includes a heady and easy victory here in Game 3. With the Pelicans on its home court and its best two players playing this well, it will take a major turnaround from Lillard and McCollum while simultaneously managing to contain a hot Davis, with the likes of Zach Collins and Ed Davis. It is tough to like those chances.