Numbers Add Up, or Down, in Making Sixers-Blazers Pick

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:10 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 9:10 PM UTC

The Portland Trail Blazers might be a value NBA pick Thursday when they host the Philadelphia 76ers, but should we just go ahead and pound the under instead?

NBA Thursday: 76ers vs. Trail Blazers

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Free NBA Pick: Under 209
Best Line Offered: BetOnline

There’s something very interesting going on with the Portland Trail Blazers. Not something you hear a lot these days, with Portland scuffling along at 17-16 SU and 15-15-3 ATS. They’ve been lacking in star power the past few years -- it’s Damian Lillard (plus-5.6 BPM) and a collection of role players running the show now. But here’s the interesting part: The under is 24-9 for the Blazers this year.

Is this sustainable? Few people are paying attention to the Blazers, so that helps. They rank No. 25 in offensive efficiency at 102.1 points per 100 possessions, and fifth overall in defensive efficiency at 101.7 points allowed. That’s a blue-ribbon recipe for a tasty under. It just might be the right NBA pick for Thursday night’s home game against the Philadelphia 76ers (15-18 SU, 17-15-1 ATS, over 17-16).

The small-market Blazers might be a decent ATS pick, too. They’ve opened as 2.5-point favorites on the NBA odds board with a total of 208; the statheads at FiveThirtyEight project Portland to win 68 percent of the time, or -4.5 according to their CARMELO formula. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index has the Blazers at only 63.8 percent, but that’s still something like -4 according to Wizard of Odds.

There’s a hitch, though. Lillard has missed the past two games with a strained right hamstring. He’s expected to play against the Sixers, but hamstring injuries are very pesky indeed, and Lillard’s level of play has been off the last couple of weeks. As long as the team’s most talented offensive player (plus-5.8 OBPM) is having issues, the under figures to retain its value better than Portland’s ATS profile.

The Verdict

The Sixers will have something to say about Thursday’s results. They’ve cooled off significantly after starting the season on fire, going 3-9 SU and 3-8-1 ATS this month. But this is thanks in large part to the on-off status of center Joel Embiid (plus-2.9 BPM). He missed five games during this slump; Philadelphia went 0-5 SU and 0-4-1 ATS. The over was 3-2 without Embiid, and 2-5 with the big man on the court. Makes sense. Embiid is one of their best defensive players (plus-2.6 BPM), and he’s expected to suit up Thursday, so let’s avoid the spread and keep pounding the under while the pounding is good.

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