The Trail Blazers are going to be shorthanded when they host the Wizards tonight. Will a little home magic inspire Portland to an unlikely win, or will Washington cash as the NBA betting favorites?
Opening NBA odds show the Wizards favored in the 5 to 5.5-point range. That shouldn't come as that much of a shock, considering Portland is incredibly shorthanded right now and thus is in a bad position, even in spite of being at home here.
The O/U here is only 195 points, which means odds makers don't expect too high of a tempo in this one. Both teams are in the top five in the NBA in average points allowed per game.
Portland Trail Blazers
Sometimes the injuries pile on and there's just nothing you can do. The Trail Blazers have been hit hard by the injury bug, as Robin Lopez remains out and LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum are banged up too.
That means there's going to be a large responsbility on the shoulders of both Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews. Those two have been playing well all season, and now they have to take on an even bigger role offensively to help fill the voids. Portland has, however, not been able to thrive in spite of the adversity, at least when we're talking recent results. The Trail Blazers have lost five of their last six games to drop to 31-13 overall.
And, with the newest injury (Batum) delivering another blow, we just have a hard time having much faith in Portland to keep up with Washington. The Trail Blazers have enjoyed a great season, but that was with their starting five intact. How will they cope now while being at less than full strength? We'll discuss this further down below.
The Wizards may be coming off a loss in their most recent outing, but they've still been playing quite well overall. They're 29-14 on the year and are a solid 7-3 over their last 10 games, which is a far better record than what the Trail Blazers have been able to muster up as of late.
Washington has been off since Wednesday's overtime defeat against the Thunder. You knew it was going to be great with Kevin Durant returning to his hometown to take on a good Wizards squad, and the game didn't disappoint. Unfortunately for Washington, the night ended with a loss, as John Wall and his 18 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and four steals weren't enough. Nene Hilario went for 24 points, four rebounds and three assists, while the rest of the starting five (Beal, Pierce and Gortat) all hit double figures too.
This is a team that looks very balanced at the moment, making them one of the easier teams to consider backing with our NBA picks. The Wizards have been in good form and are now in a great situation to get a win on the road over a wounded Portland squad.
As much as we want to back the Trail Blazers as underdogs on their home court, we just can't do it.
Why? There's just too much to overcome from a pure rotation standpoint. Portland is going to have to dig deep into its bench to fill in the missing pieces, and we fear that just won't be enough against Wall, Beal and the rest of the Wizards, who have to be licking their chops at a chance for a nice road win. Washington is fully healthy right now and simply should be able to overwhelm the hosts.
There's a reason Washington is a firm favorite in this spot, so we're going to lay the chalk and back the Eastern Conference contenders to come and take care of business. With our NBA picks, let's roll with the Wizards.
NBA Pick: Washington Wizards -5 at 5Dimes