NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, December 26, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 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 Thursday.

The surprising division leader may be ready to begin its descent back to earth Thursday night after skating by while playing no defense lately, as the Los Angeles Clippers (20-10, 8-8 away) pay a visit to those Portland Trail Blazers (23-5, 11-2 home) at the Moda Center in Portland, OR at 10:35 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Los Angeles as a moderate underdog for this contest with the current line at +4½ with odds of -109.

The Trail Blazers are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA right now at 23-5 after winning 33 games all of last season! Portland may be living a charmed life though and they are facing a team tonight in the Clippers that can take advantage of the Blazers’ defensive limitations.

The Clippers should be in an ornery mood after having their five-game winning streak narrowly snapped last night 105-103 in a chippy affair vs. the Golden State Warriors in Oakland that saw Blake Griffin get ejected with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter for getting into a scuffle with Andrew Bogut. Griffin’s absence after scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in essentially three quarters was a key reason why the Warriors outscored the Clips 30-25 in the final stanza.

The Blazers have been the biggest surprise in the league despite ranking 22nd in the league in points against, and the defense has been even worse than that as of late. You see, Portland is allowing 110.2 points per game over the last six contests, and yet still managed to win five of those games! Offense has obviously not been much of a problem for the Blazers, as they lead the NBA in both scoring at 108.4 points per game and in three-point shooting at 40.5 percent.

While that style is certainly fan-friendly, it leaves the Blazers vulnerable if they face a team that can play defense and that can match them offensively, a mold that the Clippers fit quite well, and much like last season Portland is not very deep with its bench producing only 29.6 points per game.

The Clippers are fifth in the NBA in scoring in their own right at 105.0 points per game, but unlike the Blazers, they have started to play defense at a high level since buying into defensive-minded coach’s Doc Rivers system. It was only a matter of time until that would happen though, as the Clippers finished fourth in the NBA in points against last season.

The Clips are 11th in that category this year allowing 99.3 points per game, but remember that they had a long way to come after allowing 104.8 points per game in the first 14 games this season. They have since allowed just an average of just 94.4 points over the last 16 games while holding 11 of those 16 opponents below 100 points, and one of the five teams that did crack the century mark needed overtime to do so.

Perhaps most importantly, the Clippers lead the NBA in three-point defense, which should help neutralize the Blazers’ sharp-shooting perimeter shooters Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, all of whom are shooting over 39 percent beyond the arc.

Thus, look for the Clippers to make enough stops defensively and take advantage of the suspect Portland defense enough to offer value as our underdog value play of the day Thursday.

[gameodds]5/251312/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Clippers +4½ (-109)

comment here