NBA Western Conference Showdown: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves
Odds Courtesy of Bovada
For those who find it odd that a 22-4 Portland team is an underdog to an under-.500 Minnesota Timberwolves team, consider that the Blazers played in a high scoring affair last night in Cleveland, which required every ounce of Damian Lillard’s 36 point effort to defeat Kyrie Irving and the Cavs. The Timberwolves have not been particularly good and are just 12-13, but the squad is at home and rested, with its last game having been Monday night (a 101-97 loss to Boston).
Minnesota is a potent team offensively and does a good job on the boards, but the T-Wolves have been poor in man to man defense and slow on rotations. The team averages 105.2 points per game while surrendering 101.7.
The Wolves have good depth and acquiring Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could pay dividends as he is a long bodied forward who is a very good defender. Kevin Love is a beast again this season as usual, and Kevin Martin has had a great career under the radar. Martin’s posting 20.6 points per game this season.
Corey Brewer is in his second stint in his career as a T-Wolf and he’s a much improved player after developing in Denver. He’s contributing 12.9 points per game while also getting 1.68 steals per night. Ricky Rubio leads the team with 2.88 steals a game and the Spaniard also averages eight assists per contest.
Portland has the highest scoring offense in the NBA, averaging 108.3 points per game and the Blazers rank 4th in assists per game with 23.7 per night. The Blazers have the NBA’s best record, and for as good as most knew Damian Lillard was, he’s continued to exceed expectations and forms a perfect pairing with Blazers’ big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum are both great shooters and overall players fro the wings, and Robin Lopez is a great fit at the 5-spot. Lopez is a very good defender, which is what the Blazers needed after suffering repeated meltdowns at the hands of J.J. Hickson last season.
The Blazers’ are not a team replete with depth, but when C.J. McCollum makes his NBA debut that will add one more to the rotation and Mo Williams has been as good as needed. Williams is a solid NBA veteran and is reliable, which is important given the inexperience of both Lillard and McCollum.
It’s hard to imagine that the Blazers are true contenders already, especially with a second year point guard, so it seems best to suspend judgement on whether this team can complete with the likes of OKC and San Antonio in a 7-game series until after more of the season has unravelled. For the time being, it is clearly a team with two and possibly even three All-Stars, and a team that has to be taken very seriously this spring.
Portland Trends: OVER 5-0 in last 5 on 0 days rest; OVER 5-0 in last 5 road games vs teams with home winning percentages over .600; 5-0 ATS in last 5 when starting five players combine for more than 160 mins of play in previous day.
Minnesota Trends: UNDER 8-0-1 in last 9 vs teams with road winning percentages greater than .600; UNDER 9-1-1 in last 11 home games; 1-6 ATS in last 7 when opponent scored 100 or more in previous game.
Head-to-head: OVER 6-1 in last 7 in Minnesota; Blazers 23-6 ATS in last 29 meetings; Blazers 17-5 in last 22 meetings in Minnesota.