San Antonio at Portland
Time: 9 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: POR -4
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Portland Trail Blazers are seeded No. 9 and trailing No. 8 Memphis by three games. It holds a half-game lead over its opponent tonight, the San Antonio Spurs. Portland is favored by 4-points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes, who also set the over/under at 228.5 total points.
The San Antonio Spurs is just 22-28 on the season and currently is seeded No. 9 in the West, trailing Memphis by 3.5 games for the West’s final playoff spot.
Looking at the Spurs roster, it is understandable as to why: San Antonio is led by two high-scoring veterans, but this team’s defensive outlook is nowhere near as bright, and it lacks depth unless one is to overrate the talents in it and what they have done so far.
San Antonio is giving up 114.7 points per game while scoring 113.7 itself. It has a negative point differential, a sub .500 record, and still the rough outlines of what could be a postseason team even so. It is certainly too early to write them off, at least.
The Spurs are offensively led by the two veterans DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Both post-PERs of 20-plus, but after that, the depth really thins out on this roster. Bryn Forbes has provided a boost with 11 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game, but he is really playing right at “replacement level.” The same applies to Patty Mills, whose defense is partly to blame for teams tallying so many points on the Spurs. Rudy Gay is washed up, and Dejounte Murray has been decent but the Spurs were hoping for even more.
All of this comes together to spell a team that is almost lucky to have won one-third of its games thus far in 2019-20. Without a step-up in defensive intensity, it will not even win that many moving forward. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV were all billed as potential breakout players, but none of them have broken out really.
Murray averages 10 per game, White 10, and Walker tallies just 5.6 per night. The trio was expected to lead the Spurs after Tony Parker’s regime ended, but in the two seasons since Parker left the Spurs, none of it has come to fruition, and the team is sub .500 mostly due to a lack of depth, as its primary two veterans have continued to produce.
PORTLAND news & notes:
Portland has gone 6-4 SU over its last 10 games, and at 23-28 it trails the No.8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies by three games for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
Carmelo Anthony has been the headliner for news in Portland, and the free-agent acquisition seems to be nothing but good for the Blazers’ rotation. Melo is averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 32 minutes a night through his first 23 games (all of which he has started). It has pushed Mario Hezonja back out of the starting lineup, where he was having his struggles. The Blazers also seemed to legitimately have added a true No. 3 option behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combine to average 48.8 points and 11.4 assists per game in the backcourt.
The Blazers are arguably a better team on paper this year than last, but injuries have prevented it all from fully translating. Hassan Whiteside is something of an upgrade over the injured Jusef Nurkic, but losing Zach Collins to injury was a bit of a blow to a team thin on frontcourt depth. Rodney Hood has been a pleasant surprise as a second-unit scorer, though, with his 50.6 percent shooting and 11 points per game. The Blazers simply need a healthy roster before it can build the chemistry and momentum that it really should.