Handicappers Picks Trail Blazers -2.5 vs. Nuggets

Jason Lake

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:39 PM GMT

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 12:39 PM GMT

The Portland Trail Blazers aren’t sure if their best player will suit up Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets. That hasn’t stopped Portland from opening as a 2.5-point favorite on the NBA odds board.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 23 inclusive:

67-54-1 ATS

18-14 Totals

Who needs LaMarcus Aldridge when you’ve got Thomas Robinson? On Sunday, Robinson had a career game for the Portland Trail Blazers, dumping 14 points and 18 rebounds (seven on the offensive glass) on the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 108-97 victory. The Blazers cashed in as 3.5-point favorites – their first payday in three games since Aldridge hit the sidelines with a groin injury.

It’s great to see Robinson (14.2 PER) get a chance to do some damage for Portland in what’s been a rough start to his NBA career. But can he do it again on Tuesday when the Blazers (38-18 SU, 30-26 ATS) visit the Denver Nuggets (25-30 SU, 23-32 ATS)? He might not need to; Aldridge could make his return on Tuesday, although his status was uncertain as we went to press. Portland opened regardless as a 2.5-point favorite on the NBA lines with a total of 215.

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Doubting Thomas

You know you’re dealing with an inelastic basketball betting market when the Blazers might be missing their MVP and the lines open regardless. I mentioned this last week when Aldridge (22.4 PER) was first rumored to be hitting the shelf, and Portland was still named an overnight 3.5-point home favorite against the San Antonio Spurs. The line did adjust slightly the following day, to Portland –3. The Spurs won that one 111-109.

I also accidentally called Robinson a rookie when I meant to say he has one year of NBA experience under his belt (as does Meyers Leonard). Robinson was the fifth overall pick in 2012 by the Sacramento Kings, but he was shipped off to the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline, then the Rockets dumped him on Portland in the offseason to clear up cap space. Turned out to be a steal for the Blazers; Robinson has improved at both ends of the floor in his sophomore campaign, providing 14.0 points and 12.6 rebounds in 36 minutes per game backing up Aldridge at power forward.

Solid numbers, but still a couple of notches below the 23.3 points and 11.1 rebounds that Aldridge produces every 36 minutes. Having both players in the lineup is vital for a Portland team that’s been cooling off lately at 7-9 SU and 6-10 ATS since the middle of January. And it’s even more important now that Leonard (11.4 PER) has been lost for the next 2-3 weeks with a sprained left ankle, joining Joel Freeland (11.3 PER) on the injured list.

Chancellor Lawson

Fortunately for the Blazers, their opposition on Tuesday (9:00 p.m. ET) is in even worse shape. This has turned into a lost season for the Nuggets, who had hoped to hit the ground running in their first year under head coach Brian Shaw. Instead, Danilo Gallinari (16.7 PER last year) and JaVale McGee (20.7 PER) were early casualties, and Ty Lawson (20.0 PER this year) remains questionable to face the Blazers with sore ribs. Denver has gone 1-7 SU and ATS in its past eight games to slip quietly out of playoff contention in the Western Conference.

If Lawson doesn’t play on Tuesday, Aaron Brooks (12.2 PER) will get his second start at point guard since the Nuggets picked him up from the Rockets at the deadline. Brooks was pretty good off the bench in his debut against the Chicago Bulls, but not so much against the Kings, and Denver was crushed in both games anyway. Jan Vesely (12.2 PER) has also provided mixed results since coming over from the Washington Wizards in the Andre Miller trade. It’d be nice to have updated info from the injury wire, but I’ll have to fade the Nuggets anyway. Place your NBA bets accordingly.

NBA Pick: Take the Blazers –2.5 at BetOnline

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