Free NBA Picks: Healthier Trail Blazers +1 Our NBA Pick vs. Raptors

Jason Lake

Thursday, February 4, 2016 12:31 AM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 12:31 AM UTC

The Toronto Raptors have been a strong NBA pick this year, but injuries have taken away some of their bite going into Thursday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Free NBA Pick: Trail Blazers +1
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 2: 17-21-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total


You have to stay on your toes when you're making NBA picks. Teams get hot and cold all the time – case in point, the Toronto Raptors (33-16 SU, 27-22 ATS) and the Portland Trail Blazers (24-26 SU, 27-23 ATS). They've both been profitable this year, but the Raptors have dropped the cash in four straight games, while the Trail Blazers are on a big-time roll at 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS in their last 11.

As always, some of this is just dumb luck, and past performance does not guarantee future results. But we're giving Portland a shot in Thursday's matchup (10:00 p.m. ET) at the Moda Center. We might not be the only ones; the Blazers have already moved up from +1.5 to –1 at some of the books on our NBA odds board.


The Rookie
So we whiffed on the Raptors in Tuesday's road game against the Phoenix Suns. Toronto wasn't in much danger as a 9-point favorite, but as is too often the case, the Raps failed to pull away in an eventual 104-97 victory. One important development: Rookie SG Norman Powell (3.3 PER, –6.6 BPM) ended up starting and playing 15 minutes, scoring zero points on 0-of-3 shooting. Will he get another chance on Thursday? Tune in for tomorrow's shootaround to find out.

We do know that SF James Johnson (13.1 PER, +0.4 BPM) is highly unlikely to play after he sprained his left ankle on Monday. And SF DeMarre Carroll (11.5 PER, –0.1 BPM) is still at least a week or two away after having his knee scoped. We assumed SF Terrence Ross (12.7 PER, +0.4 BPM) would be soaking up more of those minutes against Phoenix, and we assumed incorrectly. Toronto's options are somewhat limited, though. Developing Powell and protecting Ross both have their merits.


Special Ed
Meanwhile, out West, the Blazers might have to do without PF Noah Vonleh (9.6 PER, –2.7 BPM) on Thursday after he sprained his left ankle in Tuesday's 107-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks (+7 away). But this could be a short-term boost for Portland. Vonleh is very much a work in progress, while back-up Ed Davis (18.7 PER, +3.0 BPM) is one of the league's perennially underrated bigs.

The media focus, of course, will be on Portland's backcourt. PG Damian Lillard (21.6 PER, +3.6 BPM) and SG C.J. McCollum (18.1 PER, +0.7 BPM) have formed a very nice duo, at least on the offensive end. They get defensive support from their glue guy, SF Al-Farouq Aminu (12.5 PER, –0.5 BPM), who's developing into a quality 3-and-D player – exactly what the Raptors need themselves right now. We'll take the healthier and hotter team at home, and may the sphere be with you.

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