Portland to Blaze a Trail Tuesday with Win & Cover vs. Pelicans

blazers

Doug Upstone

Monday, April 16, 2018 3:50 PM GMT

Monday, Apr. 16, 2018 3:50 PM GMT

If the goal of every road team to start a playoff series is to get a split, then mission accomplished for New Orleans. However, they might need another away win to take this series.

NBA Tuesday:Pelicans (14-13 ATS road dogs) vs. Trail Blazers (19-14-3 ATS home faves)Free NBA Pick: Trail Blazers -6.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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After playing so well over a seven-week stretch from late January until mid-March, Portland closed the regular season 5-7 (5-6-1 ATS). There were genuine concerns about the Trail Blazers and those worst fears were manifested in Game 1 against New Orleans where they lost 97-95 as five-point favorites. This leads to a must-win scenario for Portland in Game 2. On the NBA odds board they are a 6.5-point favorite. What adjustments will be made by both teams?

Defensive Intensity Key for Pelicans

The Pelicans did a brilliant job in limiting Portland's offense in Game 1, particularly the first three quarters when held the Blazers to 63 points. New Orleans limited Portland to 37.7 percent shooting and really contained the dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to 13-for-41 from the field. Coach Alvin Gentry's club defended the three-point expertly, and Portland's offense never got untracked until it was desperation time in the last five minutes.

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Holiday is up

Watch live: https://t.co/es6YOqHmaE #DoItBigger pic.twitter.com/G7AfySbZDw

— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 15, 2018
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Gentry will ask his team to match that effort in Game 2 because the Trail Blazers will be even more desperate. Chances are a team shooting 45.1 percent will not finish in the 30s again for shooting percentage. In order to win, this will require New Orleans to find more scoring from other than the brilliant Anthony Davis, Jrue Holliday, and Nikola Mirotic, who tallied all but 25 of the Pelicans' 97 points. In particular, E'Twaun Moore will have to do better than putting four points in the scorebook.

Blazers Must Raise Level of Play and Slow A.D.

Whether it was nerves or just trying to stay calm, Portland players lacked the zeal one would expect for a playoff game. Maybe the brick-throwing of Lillard and McCollum sapped the team's confidence, but whatever it was the Blazers have to fix it fast. According to Kevin Pelton of ESPN, the Portland players and coaches were not overly disappointed with the Game 1 result, feeling they missed open shots they normally make. This was backed up by Second Spectrum's tracking data; analysis showed the Blazers had an ample amount of good looks, they just missed shots they normally make.

As a spectator watching, the lack of urgency could be seen. Blazers coach Terry Stotts needs his whole team to play as hard as Davis and Mirotic did. Those two thoroughly outworked Portland's frontcourt. Also, somebody from Portland has to get the ball out of Rajon Rondo's hands after he had 17 dimes.

What to Expect for Outcome

The Trail Blazers have averaged only 95.6 points in their past five outings. Given the circumstances, they are due for at least an ordinary scoring game, which is 105 points. Oddsmakers are saying as much, with the total listed at 214. For your NBA picks, look for a bounce-back effort from Portland, which betters its 13-2 ATS home record after three or more consecutive "unders" and wins by 8.

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