Despite a losing streak, one would think that the Portland Trail Blazers, who are 20-5 at home, would be a double digit favorite over the Utah Jazz, but that's not the case. Portland is an 8.5 point betting favorite. See if we think Portland is the easy pick in this West Coast NBA matchup.
Tip-off is scheduled for 10:00 pm ET tonight at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. This game can be seen nationally on NBA TV. As stated earlier, various NBA odds list the Blazers as a very reasonable 8.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 194.5. This is either a trap or there's not much confidence in Portland, who has endured a 3 game losing streak.
Not As Bad As It Appears
What people need to take into account is that every team suffers losing streaks and the Blazers were competitive in all 3 losses. They played a Cleveland Cavaliers team with Lebron James, who are on an 11 game winning streak, an Atlanta Hawks team who are the most improved team in the NBA and possibly the best team in the league, and an improved Milwaukee Bucks team with a coach in Jason Kidd who has a chance at NBA Head Coach of the Year.
Portland didn't lose a game by more than 7 points and the losing streak doesn't scare me at all. Actually, it makes the betting line more appealing if I were to bet on the Trail Blazers as they should easily be a double-figure favorite in this game and aren't.
Portland is led by the combination of Damian Dillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Lillard is a top-flight point guard in this league who got snubbed for the All-Star Game and won't defend his skills challenge title while Aldridge has been a beast all season long.
In his last 3 games, Aldridge has collected double-figure rebounds in each game and put up 38 points against Lebron and the Cavs and 37 points against Paul Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks. Utah has some nice young players, but its hasn't equated to victories. That said, the Jazz have one edge and that's at the center position with the combination of Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert. Kanter provides the offense while Gobert is a rejection machine, averaging over 2 blocks per game. The Jazz are a team of the future while Portland is a team in their prime.
The All-American Kid
Gordon Hayward possesses the look of an 18 year old Midwestern kid, but in essence, he's a 24 year old baller and the best player on the Jazz squad.
He leads the Jazz in scoring at 19.2 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.9 rebounds. Along with being an offensive threat, Hayward is also a very intense and effective defensive player. He's coming off of a huge effort against one of the best teams in the league in the Golden State Warriors. In this game, Hayward had 26 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. This young man has a bright future and I expect him to come into Portland with a great deal of confidence despite the odds.
A lot of people might look to fade Portland in this situation, but the Blazers are the far superior squad and the odds are very appealing for a team that excels on home court, which is why you should add them to your NBA picks.
NBA Pick- Portland -8.5 at 5Dimes