At 21-15-1 against the spread, Portland has established itself as one team to consider for NBA picks each time they take the court. However, they are a little less desirable as away favorites at 4-5 ATS.
The Trail Blazers are a potent 7-2 SU in that role but their margin of victory is just 3.9 points per contest, leading to pedestrian mark versus the NBA odds.
Are the Los Angeles Lakers capable of beating the number or even winning outright? You never know, so let’s look for answers to tonight’s conflict.
Is Portland Part of NBA Elite?
One year ago today, Portland stood at 27-9, which very similar to this season’s 29-8 record. Yet the Trail Blazers are being seen in a different light by NBA handicappers and other experts following the league.
Portland is one of only three teams to be in the Top 10 in points scored and fewest points allowed, which speaks to their level of commitment on both ends of the floor. The Blazers have the ability to blow opposing teams out by making better than 10 three’s a game, yet surrender just past five long balls (best in the NBA) per contest, which nightly creates an edge of 15 points, which leads to them being second in point differential at 7.3 on the season.
Every great NBA team has always had three special players with varying skills and coach Terry Stotts is thrilled to have LaMarcus Alridge, Damian Lillard and Wesley Mathews as his power trio.
Hard not to like Portland tonight or any night for that matter the way they are playing in the first half of the season.
Lakers Stuck in Limbo and Going Nowhere
Los Angeles has lost nine of 13 and just the other day coach Byron Scott called his team “soft” after being crushed by the Clippers 114-89 on Wednesday. All of the players who played in the game acknowledged the coach was accurate in his assessment. And it was not the first time as Kobe Bryant noted.
"He said the same thing I said. He just didn't use a toilet paper analogy," Bryant said, referencing a practice rant earlier this season in which he said his teammates were “soft like Charmin”.
Effort is one issue, but so is talent and Los Angeles is sorely lacking in the latter.
Kobe Bryant’s career is winding down, shooting a career-low percentage of 37.5. Part of this is advancing age, not being able to get the lift on his shots and lacking the quickness to create separation. Of equal importance is a cast of teammates, with not one player outside of Kobe who would even make being on a first or second team all Pacific Division, let alone All-Star material.
Names like Nick Young, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson or Ed Davis do not scream franchise pillars.
Despite their 12-25 record, The Lakers are at better competitive against the NBA odds at 20-15-2 ATS, but how long can that last if Kobe wears down?
Betting Odds and Head to Head
Sportsbooks trotted out Portland at -5.5 and they quickly jettisoned to -6.5 with a total of 205.5.
The Trail Blazers defeated the Lakers just six days ago at home 98-94 at home as 13-point favorites and Portland is 3-1 (2-2 SU) in recent trips to Staples Center.
Portland does not return to action until Wednesday, thus every reason to give it their all in this matchup. They will have a cumbersome test the rest of the week since it will feature a home game with the L.A. Clippers and then taking off for back to back games at San Antonio and at Memphis. This season, the Blazers are 6-1 and 5-2 ATS (+10.7 score differential) against betting odds with no rest.
The Lakers continue their four-game homestand at the Staples Center with non-conference matchups with Miami and Cleveland on Tuesday and Thursday this week. The Gold and Purple is 9-13 and 11-10-1 ATS with a day between contests.
This will be the Lakers fourth try to win back to back games for the first time since Dec.12-14 and they are generally improving as 9-3 ATS record since Dec. 19 shows.
Does L.A. have enough to knock off Portland, probably not, but with one of my NBA picks. I’ll say they can beat the spread.
NBA Free Pick – Los Angeles covers at 5Dimes