Take Road Dog Pacers vs. Trail Blazers for Your NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Thursday, December 4, 2014 1:49 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014 1:49 PM GMT

Just like last year, the Portland Trail Blazers torched the basketball odds through the first month of the season. The Indiana Pacers have been profitable, too. Which of these teams will cash in Thursday night?

Jason’s record as of Dec. 2: 12-10 ATS, 0-2 Totals

Why is nobody talking about the Portland Trail Blazers? They’re one of the hottest teams in the league at 14-4 SU and 11-6-1 ATS, featuring a viable Big Three in LaMarcus Aldridge (23.1 PER), Damian Lillard (22.6 PER) and Wesley Matthews (17.1 PER). But we’ve seen this act before; Portland got off to a hot start last year, only to cool off and get stomped by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. And besides, they’re in Portland. Nobody takes Portland seriously anymore.

Then again, not a lot of people give much thought to the Cradle of Basketball. The Indiana Pacers (7-11 SU, 10-7-1 ATS) have quietly put together a profitable start against the NBA odds, pulling off road wins over top teams like the Chicago Bulls (–9) and the Dallas Mavericks (–14). Indiana will try it again this Thursday night, tipping off from the former Rose Garden at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

 

Kaman Island
It seems people are already unloading on the Pacers. They opened as 10.5-point puppies for this matchup with a total of 197, but as we go to press, the spread has already shrunk to 8.5 points, while the over/under is down to 195.5. A look around our NBA odds board shows that Indiana –10.5 was a limited opening, though. We should have some hard data from our consensus reports by the time you read this.

We might be inclined to recommend Indiana anyway. The Blazers may have gotten off to another fast start, but they’ve only covered one of their last five games. Portland’s recent nine-game winning streak came mostly at the expense of Eastern Conference teams, including two victories over the 4-14 Charlotte Hornets and another over the winless Philadelphia 76ers.

Having said that, the Blazers do look like a better team than last year’s model. For one, Matthews (38.7 percent from downtown) isn’t shooting at an unsustainable rate like he was at the start of the 2013-14 campaign. And for two, Portland has a stronger supporting cast with the addition of Chris Kaman (18.7 PER), who was criminally underused last year by the Los Angeles Lakers. Let’s see more of what these guys can do against elite competition.

 

Precious Roy
They won’t get it Thursday night. Kudos to the Replacement Pacers for performing at a higher level than many expected – this is the point where we gratuitously mention that we had Indiana as one of our Top 5 OVER teams on the regular-season win totals. At this rate, the Pacers will win 32 games, so they’re pretty much on target for 33, and that’s with so many of their players having missed the start of the 2014-15 campaign.

The cavalry is coming. David West (17.5 PER last year) made his season debut on Nov. 28, as did back-up PG C.J. Watson (13.0 PER). Next up will be George Hill (13.4 PER), who’s aiming for mid-December. Of course, team MVP Paul George (20.1 PER) remains out long-term after breaking his right leg while training for the World Cup, but he might be able to return before the season ends.

Losing George is a big reason why the Pacers are as profitable as they are. As soon as George went down, people stopped thinking about Indiana as a viable contender in the East. Not that the Pacers are likely to repeat as Eastern champs, but they still have some quality players at their disposal, and Roy Hibbert (20.2 PER) has found his mojo again after becoming the butt of jokes last spring. We’ll go ahead and take a spin with the Pacers this Thursday as part of our free NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Pacers at BetOnline

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