NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, March 3, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of cashing than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Monday.

It could be a much closer game than the double-digit spread indicates Monday night when the disappointing Los Angeles Lakers (20-39, 10-21 away) pay a visit to the surprising Portland Trail Blazers (41-18, 23-7 home) at the Moda Center in Portland, OR at 10:05 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Los Angeles as a big road underdog for this contest with the current line at +12 with odds of -104.

The Lakers are only three losses away from clinching their first losing season since the 2004-05 season, but you would not know it from their offensive explosion when they last played on Friday that resulted in a 126-122 victory over the Sacramento Kings where they shot 60 percent from the field overall (48-for-80) including going 19-for-27 for 70.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc!

The Trail Blazers meanwhile have won five straight games to move back up to the third seed in the Western Conference at 41-18 after appearing to be returning to reality with a three-game losing streak before turning things back around. Most impressively the first four wins of this streak came without an injured LaMarcus Aldridge, and he returned with 16 points and seven rebounds in a non-covering 102-96 home win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

The Lakers actually played Portland tough in the only other meeting between these clubs so far this season with the Blazers prevailing by just a 114-108 score at the Staples Center. Laker guard Jordan Farmar played less than a minute that game before leaving with a hamstring injury, and Farmar has missed a total of 30 games this season.

We mention this because Farmar provided an offensive spark that the Lakers have been missing vs. Sacramento, scoring 30 points in 28 minutes off the bench while hitting 9-of-14 shots overall including an unbelievable 8-of-10 from three-point land! MarShon Brooks also added 25 off the bench, nicely complimenting starters Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks who poured in 22 points each.

The Lakers can still score points despite their lost season, averaging 106.0 of them over the last five games, and while the Blazers have been a positive surprise, the Portland defense has not had much to do with it while ranking 25th in the league in points against. Thus, while Los Angeles may not match Friday’s incredible performance, is should still score enough points to at the very least hang as close as it did in the first meeting.

While the Blazers won without Aldridge, they are still glad to have him back as the Portland bench is dead last in the NBA for the second year in a row in bench scoring and that depth was even weaker when they were forced to start Dorell Wright during Aldridge’s absence. The Portland starters have been so strong though that the Trail Blazers still lead in the NBA in scoring with their 107.8 points per game.

However, while the Blazers have a winning 32-27 record ATS, the reason that mark is not more in line with their gaudy straight up mark is the aforementioned defense, and once the starters are out for a blow, it is the Lakers’ bench that appears to have the advantage in this game. Granted that is not an issue when the starters are in the game, but even there, while the entire Portland lineup can score, it can also give up points just as quickly on the other end.

We look for another relatively close game like the first meeting so take the double-digit points with the Lakers on Monday.

[gameodds]5/257106/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Lakers +12 (-104)