The Portland Trail Blazers are still playing well, and that will make them a very challenging opponent for the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night in Indianapolis. We’ll see what the Pacers can do to throw the Blazers off balance
The Portland Trail Blazers Can Win Because…
Their level of form is holding up under the pressure of having to re-prove themselves this season. It’s one thing to be great in one season and enjoy the ride. It’s another thing to put together a strong resume the very next season and affirm one’s capabilities in any field of work, but especially in professional sports. The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the breakout teams in the league last season, but the challenge of having to do it all over again was felt to be a tough one for this team. The Los Angeles Clippers were supposed to be better. The San Antonio Spurs were supposed to be better. Many people felt the Dallas Mavericks were supposed to be better. However, Portland has a better record than all three of those teams through 22 games. The Blazers sit at 17-5, tied for third in the Western Conference and only half a game behind second-place Memphis. Golden State is the leader in the West and the NBA with that amazing 19-2 record.
Portland is just a really good, balanced team, they have an average point differential of 6.9 points. They score just over 102 points per game and allow just over 95. They’re succeeding at both ends of the court and are a lot more than the offense LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard bring to them. Portland defends well, and with Robin Lopez in the middle, this team can protect the rim. The numbers explain why Portland is 17-5: The team is first in the league in rebounding, seventh in assists, and fifth in scoring defense; that’s a great collection of stats. Nothing about Indiana’s profile suggests that the Pacers can stay with this team. That Portland has an 8-2 record in its last 10 games only helps the Blazers, therefore I suggest you add them to your NBA picks.
The Indiana Pacers Can Win Because…
They're getting Portland in what could very well be a favorable situation. The Blazers have to go to Chicago Friday night to take on the Bulls, in what should be a tough, close, and physically demanding game. The Bulls might not be the best team in the NBA or even the Eastern Conference, but beating a Tom Thibodeau-coached team requires a lot of resourcefulness and perseverance. If the Blazers do beat Chicago, which they very well might, they might be left with little energy in reserve for Saturday night.
The Pacers are not a highly skilled team, but one virtue they still have under head coach Frank Vogel is their work ethic. This team competes well even when shots are not falling. This team could give up at the defensive end of the floor, but it chooses not to. The Pacers are allowing only 97.1 points per game, the best points-per-game average in the Eastern Conference. Indiana has a hard time winning, but it’s normally going to stay in games with its defense. If Indiana can take advantage of Portland’s weary legs, it could steal this one.
The Blazers are too skilled for Indiana. The Pacers are going to find it hard to beat any of the top seven teams in the West, given the disparity in overall talent. Take Portland.
NBA Pick: Portland -5 at 5Dimes