This NBA handicapper predicts a minor upset special as the Portland Trailblazers take on the Toronto Raptors, this should be an up-tempo game with two of the NBA’s best point guards running the show.
The Matthews Factor
I thought it was pretty interesting when Matthews went down how it really hit the news hard. Prior to him being out, he was really flying under the radar, my guess would be most casual NBA fans wouldn’t even know who he is. That in of itself is interesting because he is deadly beyond the arc, I have watched him the last few years become an extremely good NBA player and he definitely deserved more props. Fortunately for Portland they did pick up Affalo and he has been picking up the slack, we anticipate the Blazers to still be a force come playoff time even with their best three point shooter out.
Is Toronto Back?
Maybe, but the value NBA pick in the game goes to Portland, in my opinion the Blazers match up extremely well with Toronto. The NBA odds makers have opened up this game as Toronto a -2 favorite, and it makes some sense because they have had a tough schedule out of the break. Even so, I don’t think they are back on track quite yet and Portland will be the real test for them. Since the All Star break the Raptors have not played good ball, shooting 43.6% from the field (bottom half of the league), and 33.6% beyond the arc (also bottom half). They are an up tempo team, and we recognize that, but defensively they don’t lock down anyone. They are fourth worst in the league in opponent shooting percentage allowed at 46%, and the last three games it has been 48%. Beyond the arc is a little bit better, but they are just ranked right in the middle of the league allowing almost 35% from that distance. The good on Toronto is they don’t turn the ball over very much, ranking in the top part of the league, this is most likely due a lot to Lowry who has turned the ball over less than perennial All Star point guard Chris Paul. For most of the miscellaneous statistics Toronto is mostly in the middle of the pack.
Portland Going Forward with Purpose
As mentioned losing a key player is never easy, but I think Portland has enough to still be very tough come playoff time. Since the break the rank seventh in the league in shooting percentage at 45.4% and they are fifth from beyond the arc at 37.6%. They are a well coached, well rounded team. Defensively speaking, although not great the last three games, for the year they are fourth in the league in shooting percentage allowed at 43.3% and ranked second in the league in allowed beyond the arc at 32.1%. They don’t cause a lot of the turnovers but they do rank in the upper part of the league in rebounding.
As Always, it Comes Down to Defense
This is the main reason we will back the Blazers in this spot. They are playing good basketball overall right now and are 7-3 since the break. Defensively they rank in the upper part of the NBA in the most important categories. Losing a key person should not affect them and their rotations as far as that goes, and they did pick up a good veteran in Affalo. With Lilliard and Aldridge leading the way we anticipate Portland to come out of Toronto with a win and add to the recent slide of the Raptors. We will be taking them on the plus money line and we recommend you add them to your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Portland +110 at 5Dimes