Both Phoenix and Portland have been faltering and NBA basketball handicappers and those making daily sports picks realize any victory matters for both teams even if we are not at the All-Star yet.
The Trail Blazers are taking on the same look as last year’s team at this juncture of the season having dropped eight of 11 and is in danger of falling to fifth place in the Western Conference or possible lower unless they start finding victories.
Phoenix has lost four of six, mostly at home and they have a precarious lead for the last position for the postseason out West.
Who has the edge this evening on this TNT televised matchup versus the NBA odds? Let’s break it down and figure out an answer.
Phoenix Playing Into Some Bad Luck
Once again, the Suns are one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA to watch. Coach Jeff Hornacek team goes flying up and down all 94 feet and the offense is actually modestly better from a scoring standpoint this season at 106.6 points per game (105.2 PPG last season), which is fourth in the NBA.
For those putting together NBA picks through numerical analysis, the Suns style of offense revolves around two factors, getting the ball up the floor quickly and passing to find the best available shot. The chief ball-handlers are Eric Bledsoe (16.9 PPG), Goran Dragic (16.5) and Isaiah Thomas (15.4) and they are why Phoenix is sixth in the number of points generated behind the arc (28.8) and are second in the NBA in fastbreak points (19.5) only to Golden State.
With this kind of high-powered offense, why don’t the Suns have a better record than 28-22 (26-22-2 ATS)? One simple answer which leads to more questions. Since Dec. 6th, Phoenix is 3-9 SU in games determined by six or fewer points. Certainly bad luck is part of the equation, but not having that go to scorer in the paint also matters and being so guard-oriented, when the game comes down to half court execution, this has worked against the Suns this season.
Portland Looks to Reenergize the Rest of the Way
The Blazers (33-16, 24-24-1 ATS) have been skidding, but two nights ago was able to get an important cog back and they slid by Utah 103-102 as 8.5- point favorites. While the final score was hardly impressive against the betting odds, the return of center Robin Lopez mattered to his teammates, which should have benefits down the road.
"Just comfortable. The starting unit - not only does he help the starting unit, but he just helps the team all together because it sets rotations," Wesley Matthews said of Lopez's return. "Everybody is back to what they're accustomed, where they've been playing for so long. He just gives us something that we don't have."
Lopez main contributions are on the defensive end and with rebounding. When Lopez fractured his hand, Portland ranked second in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. As he returns the fall has not been precipitous, yet the Blazers now rank seventh and fourth in those respective categories.
It will probably take a few more games for Lopez and his teammates to completely reconnect, but they almost certainly will be better than 4-12 ATS like they have been since 2015 commenced.
Betting Odds and Head to Head
Sportsbooks sent Portland out as 4.5-point home favorite with a total of 210 and the total swiftly jumped to 213, before settling back at 212.
Phoenix style of play has caused Portland problems, as they are 2-6 and 1-7 ATS against the Suns the past three years. They have had better success at the Moda Center at 2-2, yet have not covered the spread in this stretch.
If the Suns can secure a victory tonight, they will have two winnable contests in the coming days versus Utah tomorrow and at Sacramento on Sunday. Hornacek’s crew is 8-1 and 6-2-1 ATS with two days between games.
Terry Stotts team will have an adventurous weekend, playing in the Lone Star State with games at Dallas and Houston on back-to-back nights. The Blazers are 19-5 as home favorites (11-12-1 ATS) and are only 13-14-1 ATS with exactly one day off.
With both teams scuffling, it makes sense to me to take the points given how Phoenix has caused matchup problems for Portland with its speed. The Suns have history on its side and cover the number.
NBA Basketball Free Pick – Phoenix +4.5 at 5Dimes