Free NBA Picks: Trail Blazers To Set Fire To Crumbling Pistons

Jason Lake

Sunday, March 6, 2016 5:10 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 6, 2016 5:10 PM UTC

Two never-say-die teams will lock horns when the Detroit Pistons host the Portland Trail Blazers. It'll be the tightest matchup on Sunday night's NBA odds board.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of March 5: 27-31-1 ATS, 6-1-1 Total

Sometimes it's the things you don't do that matter the most. The Portland Trail Blazers didn't play basketball Saturday night. The Detroit Pistons did; they lost 102-89 to the New York Knicks (+7 at home). That could make all the difference when the Blazers and the Pistons meet Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) at the Palace. Portland is a 1-point puppy on the NBA odds boards as we go to press.


About Last Night
We saw how important rest can be earlier this week when the Trail Blazers (33-30 SU, 36-27 ATS) took on the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the Garden. It was Portland's fourth game in five days, and the Celtics took advantage, smothering the Blazers 116-93 as 6-point home faves. Portland was on a 14-2 SU and 12-4 ATS run going into that game.

After a well-deserved day off, the Blazers got right back to the pay window in Friday's gutsy 117-115 loss to the Toronto Raptors (–6 at home). Just another day at the office for Damian Lillard: 50 points, including 6-of-13 from long distance, as Portland nearly erased a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Lillard “only” had 20 points in that Celtics game, his lowest total in a month. Freshness matters.

The Pistons (31-31 SU, 31-30-1 ATS) could very well be past their freshness date. They didn't put up a lot of fight during Saturday's loss to the Knicks, who were playing without star rookie Kristaps Porzingis. Both Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris ended up playing 36 minutes against New York. No doubt they didn't enjoy the trip back to Detroit.


Abandoned Homes
There isn't a lot of difference between these two teams otherwise. Or is there? Here's how the usual suspects view Sunday's matchup:

FiveThirtyEight (CARM-Elo): Portland –1
Basketball-Reference (SRS): Detroit –3.46

Not too often you see a gap quite this big between these projections. CARM-Elo takes rest into account, though, and SRS won't be aware that the Pistons are missing several players to injury, most notably forwards Stanley Johnson (9.7 PER, –2.1 BPM) and Anthony Tolliver (10.4 PER, +0.5 BPM). That's one reason why Drummond and Harris were so busy on Saturday. Don't forget, Detroit also traded both Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to acquire Harris from the Orlando Magic at the deadline.

We're happy enough with this situation to recommend Portland for your NBA picks. The Blazers are healthy and they're on a roll. The Pistons had a nice four-game winning streak SU and ATS going, but they've dropped back-to-back games to fall back into eighth place in the Eastern Conference – a perilous eighth place at that. We're going out West instead, and may the sphere be with you.

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Free NBA Pick: Portland +1
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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