The Portland Trail Blazers are leading their division, but they’re not one of the top three teams in the Western Conference right now. Can they beat the best team in the NBA or at least cover on the NBA betting lines?
The Portland Trail Blazers Can Win Because…
They are going up against a team that has lost two straight and – while still the best team in the NBA – might have stopped caring about the regular season. Golden State just needs one win or one Atlanta loss over the remainder of the season, which will last for another full week, in order to clinch home-court advantage throughout the entire NBA playoffs in 2015. Given that situation, the Warriors really don’t have that much of an incentive to play all-out at this point. They can distribute their minutes, rest their starters, and make a genuine attempt to prepare for the playoffs, when everybody’s going to start fresh, anyway. It’s not so much that Golden State has lost two games in a row for one of the few times this season. It’s that the Warriors really seem to be coasting – that’s the biggest reason Portland can win this game, so heads up when looking at the NBA odds.
Recall the Phoenix Suns – not a playoff team – coming within one point of beating the Warriors last week in Oakland, and being denied only because of a 13-foot runner by Harrison Barnes? Golden State just doesn’t need this game. On the other hand, Portland would love to win this game because the Blazers are in fourth place in the Western Conference. They are right behind Memphis and Houston in the race for either the second or third spot in the conference. If Portland could at least get up to number three, the Blazers would not have to face Golden State until the Western Conference Finals. That’s plenty to play for at this time of year.
The Golden State Warriors Can Win Because…
They are coming off back-to-back losses. That doesn’t sound like a reason to pick a team to win, but here’s the thing about Golden State this season after losing back-to-back games: The Warriors are 3-0 in such situations. They’ve never lost three straight games in a season. This team has been so thoroughly consistent that when it hits a bad patch, guys rededicate themselves and make sure fewer breakdowns occur. Guys who weren’t shooting the ball well are able to bounce back.
In this specific situation, consider Klay Thompson, one of Golden State’s best players. He was just 2 for 10 from the field on Tuesday night in a 103-100 loss at New Orleans. You’re just not going to see Thompson put up a terrible line like that, in which he scores just seven points and is a near-total non-factor. Even though Golden State might not need this game, you can tell that this team takes pride in what it does. Two-game losing streaks get this team’s attention. It is not going to lose three in a row – not now, and probably not ever as long as this season is still active.
It’s not as though Portland is playing well, either. The Blazers lost decisively to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, as they attempted only nine free throws and forced only six turnovers, both signs of a team that’s just not as aggressive as it needs to be.
The Blazers’ desire to get the third seed in the Western Conference is a factor but Portland just isn’t as good as Golden State. The Blazers are playing on the road and in a back-to-back. This looks like a spot a spot where the Warriors will get right. Take them with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Golden State -9 at 5Dimes