Amidst Joe Johnson trade rumors, the Nets still have work to do, and they'll be at home to the Trail Blazers this evening, with the NBA odds favoring the road team by a large margin.
There's no doubt about who the favorite is when Brooklyn and Portland tussle tonight. The Trail Blazers have been the far more reliable team this season, and as such they're laying either 7.5 or 8 points. The exact number depends on which online sportsbook you use, and shows you how beneficial it can be to use multiple books in your endeavors.
If you're itching to get a piece of this game somehow, you may want to consider a total play. NBA odds boards list the O/U at 193.5 right now, but that number could very well change again before tipoff. Portland has excelled offensively this season, but both teams are in the top half of the league defensively.
The Nets are 18-26 on the season and just continue to disappoint. They've had some nice wins and here and there, but the overall product has left a lot to be desired. Brooklyn has lost two straight and has gone a dreadful 2-10 over its last 12 games, a horrible run that has culminated in trade rumors and inner turmoil.
Simply put: the Nets have been struggling a good deal, and now one of their most reliable players, Joe Johnson, is hearing his name tossed around in trade rumors. Apparently they've been talking with the Charlotte Hornets about a potential deal involving Lance Stephenson. Who knows what will end up happening, but how does it relate to our cause?
Well, Brooklyn still has games to play, and these kinds of talks aren't going to help chemistry much. Johnson is in a weird spot right now, but he's been the team's go-to guy for the most part. It's been a mess of a new year for the Nets thus far, and the pressure is building, which is why we're seeing trade chatter.
Portland Trail Blazers
While the Nets continue their turmoil, the Trail Blazers have seemed to regain their swagger.
Of course, it helps when you get one of the best players in the NBA in LaMarcus Aldridge back. He was set to miss up to two months of action because of a finger injury, but he decided to delay surgery until after the season and made a shock return in Portland's win over Washington on Saturday. Aldridge scored a game-high 26 points, so he doesn't appear to very limited. That's amazing news for the Trail Blazers, who had quickly become a top dog in the Western Conference. They couldn't afford to be without a guy like LMA.
So now that Portland has Aldridge back and was able to get a much-needed win, we think the momentum will pick up with another road win over a disheveled Brooklyn squad. The Trail Blazers, even with some injury concerns of their own, should be able to muscle out a win through the production of LMA alongside Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews. Nicolas Batum is currently questionable.
We don't see much value in a total play here, as that's a tricky number that doesn't seem to offer much value for those looking to add this game to their NBA picks.
Instead, we are going to agree with the oddsmakers' opinion on this game -- the Trail Blazers are heavy favorites for a reason, as you never feel comfortable backing a team that's involved in trade discussions, like Brooklyn is right now. Portland just got one of the best players in the NBA back in the fold, and had already been playing as is.
With that in mind, we don't mind laying a pretty heavy number here. We think Aldridge, Lillard and company will come in and take care of the disinterested Nets tonight.
Pick: Portland Trail Blazers -7.5