Portland at Brooklyn
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: BRK -2.5
Odds c.o. 5dimes
POR TEAM NOTES
Portland has been rolling this season, and it has won six of its last 10 overall. It currently sits at No. 4 seed in the Western Conference with its 34-23 mark on the year. Damian Lillard, for his part, has been sensational this season. The All-Star is averaging 26 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.
His backcourt sidekick CJ McCollum is rounding into form too, averaging 21.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. The Blazers use its starting center Josuf Nurkic just 27 minutes a game, but he averages 15 points and 10.3 rebounds in that time, making the most of it with his high energy play.
The reduction in his time means more for Zach Collins, and the second-year big man has also looked good. Portland has gone more heavily towards its starters as the season has worn on, but it has some good talent waiting in the wings.
Collins is averaging seven points and 0.86 blocks per game in 18 minutes a night. The Blazers have good depth, and its bench is greatly improved with the better play of Evan Turner and Nik Stauskas, who has revived his career in Portland. Stauskas is averaging 6.1 points per game in his 15 minutes a night. The Blazers now seem to have the depth it has lacked in previous seasons. Could Portland put a scare into a top team? It is tough to bet against it with some depth now flanking the outstanding talent that is Lillard.
The Brooklyn Nets have lost six of its last 10 games and currently trail No. 5 Philadelphia by 7.5 games. The Nets are 17-13 at home this season and have a 21-17 mark against fellow Eastern Conference teams. It has lost three of its last four against the East, however. Against the West, Brooklyn has gone just 9-12.
Brooklyn has recently received superb play from Russell, who is looking more like the superstar he was billed to be when the L.A. Lakers drafted him out of Ohio State. Over his last 10 games, Russell has averaged 22.9 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game and the Nets have gone 7-3 over that span.
In the month of January, Russell averaged 23 points and seven assists per game, markedly better than his 19 and six on the season. The 6’5” guard is thriving with Spencer Dinwiddie unavailable, as the pair before had (awkwardly) shared the playmaking responsibilities. With Dinwiddie entering free agency this summer, the Nets will have some choices to make with regards to its future 1-man for the rebuild, but this rebuild is bright.
The Nets are playoff contenders and now will be getting its draft picks back after surrendering several to the Boston Celtics as a result of the poorly planned trade that brought the Nets Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. While that trade did not work out, the Nets have been scrappy in assembling talents and are a force to be reckoned with already: With a top draft pick joining the fold, this team could reasonably be in the top-4 in the East as soon as next season.
ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers):