Hard Choices With Blazers-Clippers, but Lean Toward 'Under'

Jason Lake

Sunday, March 18, 2018 12:00 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 18, 2018 12:00 PM UTC

Two of this year’s best NBA picks will meet tonight when the Portland Trail Blazers visit the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s going to be a tough choice – unless we bet the total.

Sunday NBA: Trail Blazers vs. ClippersFree NBA Pick: Under 220.5 (–105)Best Line Offered: Heritage

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It’s always an adventure when the Los Angeles Clippers play. Pinning down Friday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was a challenge; Paul George and Steven Adams played for Oklahoma City, but despite their gimpiness and the Clippers playing the second of back-to-back games, they went "over" 224 points when the Thunder (-6 at home) won 121-113. L.A. managed to hit 11 of their 26 trey attempts despite those tired legs. Good for them.

The Clippers (37-31 SU, 37-30-1 ATS) will host the Portland Trail Blazers (43-26 SU, 38-26-5 ATS) tonight at 10:30 ET (NBA-TV), and this time it’s the Blazers playing on zero days of rest. They just finished whupping the Detroit Pistons 100-87 Saturday night as 9-point home faves. Portland has won 11 straight games at 10-1 ATS. Rest or no rest, we’re going to need a very good reason to bet on the Clippers this time.

Jusuf Endures

The Clippers opened as 2-point favorites on the NBA odds board, and according to the consensus reports, 67 percent of early bettors are on Portland. That could be two of three bettors, for all we know, but it’s still not a good sign for L.A. There was some concern about center Jusuf Nurkic (minus-0.8 BPM) and his sore right ankle heading into Saturday’s game, but he played a reasonable 23 minutes and scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists.

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Someone got to Jusuf Nurkic’s Wikipedia page in a hurry.

😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/YwsTiJMHni

— Nate Lundy (@natelundy) March 16, 2018
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The thing is, a 2-point spread doesn’t leave us much to work with. FiveThirtyEight projects the Clippers to win tonight's game 63 percent of the time, which works out to -3 using their CARMELO formula. And ESPN’s Basketball Power Index has L.A. winning only 60.3 percent of the time; that actually works out to near -3.5 according to Wizard of Odds, but it’s still not the 2-point difference we’d like to see before opening up the vault and making our NBA picks.
It didn’t quite work out last time, but we’re more inclined to bet "under" 220.5 points than fade either of these two teams. Portland does have the "under" at 41-28 this year, including the win over Detroit. This is how they’re built – with the No. 15-ranked offense in the league (106.2 points per 100 possessions) and the No. 8-ranked defense at 104.1 points allowed. We’ll buy that for a dollar.

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