Ready or not, here comes my first free NBA pick of the season. If you believe in beginner's luck, then by all means, check out this preview of Orlando's matchup in Portland.
If ignorance is bliss, as the old saying goes, then this little exercise here should end up a winner for anyone brave enough to ultimately tail the free NBA pick.
The disclaimer you should already know is coming pertains to the fact I simply do not follow the Association, and haven't since the mid-90s when Hakeem Olajuwon was leading the Houston Rockets to back-to-back championships. Even then, yours truly wasn't much of an NBA fan.
I can name most of the players on the San Antonio Spurs, mainly because fans in this area who frequent the taproom down at the brewery where I work talk them up. This matchup doesn't involve the Spurs, however, nor is it a throwback affair with The Dream part of the mix.
Instead, our destination is Portland where the Trail Blazers welcome the Orlando Magic to town for the first of two meetings between the two on the regular season slate. There won't be a postseason clash between them, that much I know.
A 10 PM (ET) start time at the old Rose Garden is set for the tilt with regional sports networks beaming the game to subscribers. Portland backers will need to lay 12½ and SBR's live NBA odds have been following a total which has steadily declined to 194.
Magic Drag 5-Game Skid To Portland
About the best things that can be said about the Magic is they aren't the league's worst team. But then, that is mostly to the discredit of the Knicks, Sixers and Timberwolves rather than to the credit of Orlando (13-26 straight up, 21-18 against the spread).
The Magic saw their losing streak grow to five following Friday's 101-84 to the Lakers in Los Angeles. Los Angeles head coach Byron Scott decided to rest superstar Kobe Bryant, and the Lakers never really missed him thanks to Jeremy Lin sparking the club with a game-high 18 points off the bench.
Orlando's season got off on the wrong foot, or the right foot of Aaron Gordon to be more precise. The fourth overall pick in last June's NBA Draft, Gordon's pro career barely started before he needed surgery to repair a broken bone in said pedal, and the youngster is expected to miss the rest of January before being cleared for action.
Though Gordon wasn't expected to make an immediate impact with the Magic, it was hoped he would be a bigger part of the rotation at this point, a rotation that desperately needs any help it can get on the offensive end. Orlando ranks 27th in scoring, each of its last five wins games in which the century mark was reached.
Blazers Wrap Up Homestand In First Of Weekend's Back-To-Back
Offense has not been an issue for Portland (28-8 SU, 21-14-1 ATS), a 103.8 PPG average 6th-best in the league. Neither has defense been an issue with the Trail Blazers tops on the chart allowing under 97 per contest, and it was that defense that pushed the team to a 99-83 win and cover Thursday evening against the Heat who managed but 35 in the second half.
Along with the victory vs. Miami, Portland backers and fans were happy to see Wesley Matthews on the floor Thursday. The 6th-year guard out of Marquette was doubtful after injuring a knee against the Lakers on Monday, but managed to start and play 30 minutes while scoring 18 and dishing out five assists.
The home team has scored the outright win in the four meetings the past two seasons, but it's Orlando backers cashing tickets in four of the past five. Neither of the matchups a year ago reached the total. It's the second of a back-to-back situation for Orlando and first of successive games for the Blazers who travel to Los Angeles on Sunday to meet the Lakers. Assuming Portland doesn't get caught looking ahead to the Tinseltown tilt, covering 12½ shouldn't be any problem for the home team.
NBA Pick: Portland -13 at 5Dimes