Do the Sixers have what it takes to a give one of the best team in the league in the Portland Trail Blazers, a run for their money in Portland? See who we like as the Blazers are a double-digit betting favorite in this lopsided affair.
Tip-off is scheduled for 10:00 pm ET tonight at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NBA odds list Portland as a 14.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 198.
Portland is coming off of a big time battle with the unstoppable Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the end. Westbrook fouled out in overtime and Portland was able to pick up the victory, 115-111 at OKC. The Blazers can't let their guard down. Although Philly has been a bottom-feeder all season long, they've won 2 straight games and are filled with young talent.
Best Point Guard in the NBA?
The question is still up for debate, but Damian Lillard has proven to be a big money player and one of the best players in this league.
Lillard is coming off of a monstrous 40 point, 11 assist, and 6 rebound effort against the Thunder. Tonight, he get's a huge break as he faces a very inexperienced Philadelphia club in his own building. A major reason for the Sixers poor record is their ineffectiveness on defense. Philly ranks near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories and defense is one of them. They allow 102.7 points per game while managing just 91.4 points per contest. That plus/minus differential is one of the worst if not the worst in the NBA. There's nobody on the Sixers roster that shown that they can guard a player such as Damian Lillard.
Lillard is averaging nearly 30 points per game in his last 5 games with 2-40 plus point performances in that period of time. I don't expect Lillard to get 40 here. He could have his playing time cut down as this game has blowout written all over it.
The Blazers rank #1 in rebound in the NBA and that means no 2nd opportunities for Philadelphia. Guys like Nerlens Noel, who are known for their defensive prowess, must keep tabs on LaMarcus Aldridge. At 22.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, Aldridge has been a beast all season long and the pressure is definitely on the Sixers to keep this game competitive.
The Sixers have found newly discovered talents in Tony Wroten and Robert Covington, but the real legitimate star on this team is Michael Carter Williams. MCW has a very well-rounded game as a 6 foot 6 point guard. In his last 2 games, he's eclipsed the 20 point mark and shot over 50% and it's equated to victories. The Sixers need Michael Carter-Williams to have a big game here or they'll be in trouble.
Another player that Philly needs to come up big is Nerlens Noel. Noel has that potential label on him as the 6th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Officially, he could be a rookie of the year candidate, but lack of consistency won't allow him to be considered for that award. He hasn't really fully developed an offensive game at just 20 years of age.
If you read Noel's stat line, it will show you the kind of player that he is. He scored 19 points against Boston and then came back with 6 against Charlotte, He then scored 13 points against Orlando and then came back with a single point against Miami in Philly's victory. Noel does have a major presence in the paint with his ability to block shots and he has a strong defensive game. At this point, as a 14.5 point betting favorite, the 76'ers would take a strong defensive effort out of Noel.
I want to stay away from the 14.5 point spread as Philadelphia has picked up a little confidence. The over looks like a good NBA pick in this game as the Sixers defense is sorely lacking and Portland has offensive-minded players on their squad with major talent.
NBA Pick- Portland/Philadelphia Over 198 at 5Dimes