Almost every night there is an important game in the Western Conference and those placing NBA picks have very difficult choices to make because of the balance that goes eight-deep.
Tonight we have another confrontation which will help shape the ultimate structure of the West for the postseason with Dallas invading Portland. This is the nitecap on TNT and like most games on this side of the bracket; it will have implications down the road.
Dallas Has Be Steady
The Mavericks (40-22, 28-30-4 ATS) are in the sixth slot in the West and two games behind Houston who currently resides in the No. 4 position. Since Jan. 30th, Dallas is 10-5 (8-6-1 ATS) and been consistent, having two different three-game winning streaks and only once losing two straight.
Credit Rick Carlisle for keeping the Mavs on an even keel, even when adding playing players like Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo and now Amar’e Stoudemire, all who could be positives or negatives on the court or in the locker room.
The Mavericks have the sixth-best road record in the NBA at 19-12 (16-14-1 ATS), outscoring the opposition by 3.9 points per game. However, for those aspiring NBA basketball handicappers and those delving into the NBA betting odds, the Cuban’s are much less effective as away underdogs compared to visiting favorites, as shown by 4-10 and 5-9 ATS numbers when catching points away from Big D.
Tyson Chandler is expected back for Dallas and that is a good development for them, especially dealing with Portland’s size in the frontcourt. Rondo also has to become more a team player to help his club.
Portland Blazing a Trail Again
The Trail Blazers (40-19, 30-28-1 ATS) have won four in a row and eight of 11 (6-5 ATS). Portland showed some Bill Rafterty “onions” last night in coming from behind to win defeat the L.A. Clippers 98-93 in OT.
Despite shooting 39.1 percent, committing 16 turnovers, allowing Chris Paul to dominate most of the contest (season-high 36 points and had 12 assists) and trailing by 10 points with less than three minutes, Portland found a way to escape with a W.
When the Blazers finished 2-8 SU and ATS to close January, for those making NBA picks it felt very similar to last season when Portland began the season on fire and wilted as the year progressed.
But this group has rebounded and their calling card has been defense, ranked fourth in field goal percentage defense at 43.3 percent and second only to Golden State in effective field goal percentage defense at 46.8 percent.
Coach Terry Stotts will call on his defense again to slow the league’s No. 4 scoring offense.
Betting Odds and Head to Head
The sportsbooks released Portland as two-point home favorites with a total of 201 and the wagering public has adjusted the NBA odds on the Trail Blazers upwards to -3. Though Dallas has for seasons had a conundrum trying to guard LaMarcus Aldridge, they are 3-1 ATS (2-2 SU) in Rip City the past couple years and 6-3 and 7-2 ATS facing the Blazers anywhere since 2012-13 campaign.
Games two and three of this quick West Coast swing for Dallas are at Golden State on Friday and at the L.A. Lakers on Sunday, before returning home to face Cleveland, the L.A. Clippers and Oklahoma City. (Holy snikes) The Mavericks enter this contest 7-4 and 4-7 ATS with two days off.
This is a sandwich home game after being in L.A. last night and at Minnesota on Saturday. The Blazers are 8-4 and 7-5 ATS when playing without rest.
Dallas will have a rest edge and has not been uncomfortable playing at Portland. However, the Blazers are playing better overall basketball and
have the superior defense.
In digging a little deeper, I also discovered the Mavs are 0-5 SU and ATS on the road of late against Western teams contending for playoffs spots, along with Atlanta.
NBA Basketball Free Pick: Portland -3 at 5Dimes