The Portland Trail Blazers snapped a 0-5 SU & ATS streak Wednesday night, while the Phoenix Suns saw their 4-0 SU and ATS run come to an untimely end. Only one can be our NBA pick this Friday.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 25: 61-55-4 ATS, 5-11 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
If the Portland Trail Blazers are indeed stuck in some kind of time warp and just replaying last year’s results, then right about now is when their season-ending hot streak begins. Portland went 9-1 SU and 6-4 ATS during the last 10 games of the 2013-14 campaign to secure a playoff berth. The ’14-’15 Blazers aren’t in much danger of slipping out of the Top 8 in the Western Conference; as we go to press, they’re eight games ahead of ninth place at 45-25 SU and 35-34-1 ATS. But Portland is in danger of falling into the bottom half of the Western bracket.
The Phoenix Suns (38-34 SU, 38-32-2 ATS) happen to be the team in ninth place, just like they were last year. They’re three games behind Oklahoma City for the final playoff berth in the West, and with 10 games left to go, the Suns had better get cracking. They’re 1-point home dogs for Friday’s nightcap (10:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) against the Blazers.
Things looked very dark indeed for the Trail Blazers after Wes Matthews (16.1 PER, plus-3.9 BPM) tore his Achilles earlier this month. Portland had just traded for another shooting guard in Aaron Afflalo (7.3 PER, minus-3.2 BPM), but as you can tell by these numbers, Afflalo has been more salt than Band-Aid. The Blazers are 4-6 SU and ATS since Matthews went down for the count.
When it rains blood, it pours. LaMarcus Aldridge (22.6 PER, plus-0.2 BPM) jammed a finger in last Saturday’s 97-86 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (–3 at home). Fortunately for the Blazers, Aldridge was good to go Wednesday night in Utah, putting up 19 points and nine rebounds in a 92-89 come-from-behind victory over the Jazz (–2). That stopped Portland’s five-game losing streak straight up and against the basketball odds.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Batum (12.8 PER, plus-2.8 BPM) and Chris Kaman (16.7 PER, minus-1.7 BPM) are both questionable for Friday’s matchup. These are two of Portland’s best defenders; Batum (plus-2.5 DBPM) has missed two games with a sore back, while Kaman (plus-1.1 DBPM) sat out the last three games with a strained right shoulder. The Blazers don’t have much bench strength, so keep a close eye on the status of both players.
‘Tis But a Scratch
Looks like we jumped back on the Suns bandwagon just in time. Despite some injury concerns and questionable trades (at least in the short term) of their own, the Suns went on a four-game winning streak SU and ATS before coughing one up against the Sacramento Kings (+8 away) on Wednesday, losing 108-99. Phoenix shot just 6-of-25 from long range; P.J. Tucker (12.7 PER, plus-1.5 BPM) had an especially miserable day at 0-of-6 from downtown and 1-of-11 overall. Better put up some fresh rims for Friday’s game.
Maybe the Suns could use some fresh shooters while they’re at it. Brandon Knight (11.7 PER, minus-4.0 BPM) and Marcus Thornton (6.7 PER, minus-8.2 BPM in 74 minutes) have played unusually poorly since arriving in the desert, but they can start turning things around as soon as Friday night – both are listed as questionable to face the Blazers after sitting out the past couple of weeks. Knight (ankle) appears ready to go, Thornton (toe) not so much.
Given how rough things have been for Knight in a Suns uniform, and since he’s just now returning from a seven-game absence, we shouldn’t expect too much out of him. But we’re going to roll the dice with NBA Picks on Phoenix anyway as underdogs in NBA odds, based on the recent results for both teams. May the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Suns +1 at Pinnacle