Can Portland back up its place in the Western Conference by winning – or at least cover the NBA betting spread – in the Alamo City against the defending NBA champions?
The Portland Trail Blazers Can Win Because…
They are playing better basketball than the Spurs right now. Portland has won three in a row and is 8-2 in its last 10 games. The Trail Blazers have a better positive point differential than the Spurs, 6.7 points to 5.6 for San Antonio. While Portland has been playing really well, San Antonio has been struggling. The Spurs have lost two in a row and are just 5-5 in their last 10 games. You might wonder why the Spurs are having it so rough. Well, injuries have taken a toll; keep this in mind when checking out the NBA odds. The Spurs actually played well with the people they had on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, taking the Griz to triple overtime and losing by one point. The loss, though, occurred without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, who were both out with injuries. They’re both going to be out for this game as well. Tim Duncan will still play for San Antonio in this game. So will Manu Ginobili. So will Danny Green. So will Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw. However, Parker and Leonard are the two best and most important members of the Spurs. Being without one of them feels like something San Antonio can manage. Being without both of them feels like a task too great for the Spurs, as resourceful as they are.
Portland might seem like a flash-and-dash team with Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldrige filling it up every night, but the Blazers actually play strong defense. They allow under 96 points per game and should be able to lock down the shorthanded Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs Can Win Because…
They're playing at home and far exceeded expectations against Memphis on Wednesday. The Spurs, playing without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, fell behind by 22 points and seemed ready to lose by 40. Instead, the Spurs fought back and earned not one, not two, but three overtime periods against an opponent that entered the game with a 20-4 record and was healthy. The Spurs, even when they lose, find ways to amaze the rest of the NBA. It’s hard to imagine another team being 17-9 with all the injuries, missed games, and missed minutes that have accumulated for the Spurs, who have had to rest their older players under the system used by head coach Gregg Popovich. Even though Portland would seem to have all the advantages in this game, the Spurs are the Spurs – they have ways of surprising the opposition. With an ability to hold opponents to 96.3 points per game, the Spurs can play a defensive game on the Blazers’ terms. They will probably need to be at their best on defense if they want to win this game.
The Blazers are going to win because the Spurs’ defense needs an active Kawhi Leonard to be fully effective. The odds are very high that Portland will score at least 100 points, and the odds are good that Portland will get to 105, in which case it will be hard for San Antonio to catch up. Take the Blazers with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Portland at 5Dimes