Lakers vs. Trail Blazers to go Under for our NBA Picks

Jordan Sharp

Monday, March 3, 2014 1:26 PM GMT

Monday is a big night in the NBA, and one of the late games features the Blazers hosting the Lakers. The NBA Odds have LA as a huge +12 underdog, with a total of 221. Which side are we on?

Portland has been playing great basketball recently, while the Lakers look like they are ready for the end of April for the most part. Even though I doubt we can trust either of these teams to cover this monstrous spread, I do see the total having some value tonight.

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Blazers making a run

Portland has won their last five games SU, and the under has cashed in all five of them. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t play in four of those games, and even though they were against subpar opponents like the Nuggets, Wolves, Jazz and the Nets, their defense is what won them the games, not their offense. This could be them buckling down for the stretch run of the season, and that could lead to great value.

Portland was playing solid defense to start the season, but they fizzled out around mid-January, and when their offense started to slump, they started losing games. However they seem to have fixed some of their problems on that end of the floor, and having Aldridge back is going to really help their defense. The duo of Aldridge and Robin Lopez is a formidable force for most teams, and the Lakers are going to feel it tonight.

This is actually only the second time these two teams have played one another this season, and both teams have had one or more days off since their last game. With Portland’s defense ramped up, it could be very difficult for the Lakers to score tonight away from home. Portland is a tough place to play already, and the Blazers are a pretty tricky matchup for the Lakers. The Blazers are just as fast and athletic as LA, and arguably more so.

NBA Championship Futures Update

The Sharp Pick

With Aldridge back for Portland, the Blazer defense will improve a lot, but even before Aldridge returned, the Blazers were playing some good defense. In their last five games, Portland’s opponents have averaged only 92.4 points per game, which is close to excellent in the NBA. Granted their opponents were Denver twice, Minnesota, Utah and Brooklyn, but it might just be the push they need to actually contend for a very high playoff seed. This will encourage them to ramp up their effort on the defensive end for the rest of the season, especially tonight against the Lakers.

Obviously LA isn’t going to stop the Blazers’ offense, but will the Lakers be able to score against the improved Blazers defense? I don’t think so. In fact even when the Blazers were slumping, they were a great under bet. Now they are winning, and they are still very overvalued in their totals. A total of over 220 on the basketball odds board is much too high tonight in Portland.

The under is 14-7-1 in Portland’s last 22 games, and I see that trend continuing tonight with the Lakers in town. Aldridge will slow down Pau Gasol, and right now Gasol is the only consistent offensive weapon for the Lakers. I could see the Blazers dropping 115 points tonight for our basketball picks, but I don’t see the Lakers getting that far above 100.

NBA Pick: UNDER 221