NBA Picks: Trail Blazers -5 vs. Magic

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:57 AM GMT

If Portland is hoping to have a shot at home-court advantage for a first-round Western Conference playoff series, it certainly can't afford a loss at sad-sack Orlando on Tuesday night.

The Blazers opened as 5-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 207 for sports bettors.


Could Blazers Slip To No. 7 Seed?
The Trail Blazers (38-33 ATS, 41-29-1 O/U at sportsbooks) are sinking in the West, having lost two straight and seven of 10 (5-5 ATS). They are now just a game of No. 6 Golden State. No. 7 Memphis is only two games back of Portland in the loss column. No. 4 Houston is four games ahead of the Blazers in the loss column.

The Blazers were blown off the court on Saturday in Charlotte but played much better Monday in Miami, falling 93-91 against a Heat club missing Dwayne Wade. Portland rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to tie at 91 with 30 seconds left. However, LeBron James then put the Heat up two with 11 seconds left on a layup, and Damian Lillard's layup to tie with two seconds remaining was blocked away by Chris Bosh.

Lillard was 3-for-15 from the field. He's shooting only 40 percent the past 10 games. Portland ranks second in the NBA in scoring but has been under 100 in four of its past five losses. Getting All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge back would certainly help matters. He has missed six straight games with a back injury. He does appear to be getting closer and is traveling with the team but is not likely to play against the Magic.

Take a look at the top NBA Championship Betting Lines

Orlando Far From Magical On Road
The Magic (29-40-2 ATS, 31-40 O/U at sportsbooks) are no doubt glad to be back home, where they are a decent 15-18 (17-16 ATS) compared to 4-34 outside of central Florida. Orlando just completed a four-game trip through the Western Conference at 0-4 and has lost nine straight games overall. On the road, Orlando is an almost unthinkable 1-23 in its past 24. That lone victory was in Philadelphia. The Magic have two wins in their past 14 games and both are against the possibly historically bad 76ers.

Orlando does look to have a keeper in rookie Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick out of Indiana. He has started the past three games at the point in place of an injured Jameer Nelson, who is iffy for this one. Oladipo has shown his overall talent in that stretch by averaging 18.0 points, 7.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He also has turned the ball over a combined 18 times. Ball protection and improving his jumper are two things the Magic will emphasize for Oladipo this offseason.

A loss here would give the Magic their second double-digit losing streak of the season. That has happened just twice previously in franchise history, including last year. It's apparently a lock that the Magic will lose to Portland if they are outrebounded. Orlando is 0-33 this year when losing the battle of the boards. The team isn't totally awful in rebounding, ranking 19th in the NBA at 42.3 per game. Portland leads the league at 46.3 per game but a large reason for that is Aldridge.

[gameodds]5/259881/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Season Series
The Blazers easily handled visiting Orlando 110-94 on Jan. 8. Nicolas Batum had 14 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists for his fourth career triple-double. Aldridge had 36 points and nine boards in the second of a back-to-back for Portland. Arron Afflalo had 22 points to lead the Magic. Nelson had 17 points and 10 assists. The Magic were without their best rebounder, center Nikola Vucevic. The Blazers won the rebounding battle by five and outscored the Magic by 18 points in the paint. Vucevic is averaging a double-double (13.9 points, 10.9 rebounds) this season but has missed 18 games with various injuries; he'll play Tuesday.


NBA free picks:
Portland -5 and the over -- there won't be much defense played here. Orlando has covered once in its past seven against teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Portland's past five against teams with a losing record. The over is 11-5 in Orlando's past 16 at home.