West Game 1: Pelicans Gobble Up Cover in Rip City

pelicans blazers

Doug Upstone

Friday, April 13, 2018 3:54 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 13, 2018 3:54 PM UTC

The last game on the opening day of the NBA playoffs Saturday is in the Western Conference, and it features No. 3 seed Portland hosting No. 6 New Orleans, and ESPN will have the coverage at 10:30 ET.

Both teams enter the playoffs coming from opposite ends of the spectrum. The Trail Blazers had to defeat Utah in its final regular-season contest to secure the 3rd seed after losing four in a row. The Pelicans are on a 5-0 SU and ATS surge and appear very dangerous.

Series Odds: Portland -210, New Orleans +175Game 1: Pelicans (48-34, 45-36-1 ATS) at Trail Blazers (49-33, 45-30-7 ATS)Free NBA Pick: New OrleansBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Portland backcourt is one the best in the NBA with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combining to average 48.3 points per game. This is the Trail Blazers' meal ticket to success, and to win and cover in this confrontation and the series they will need a decided edge over their Pelicans counterparts.

While nobody is going to slow Anthony Davis down, Portland center Jusuf Nurkic cannot be a non-factor and at the minimum will have to contribute season-average of 14 points and nine rebounds a game while staying out of foul trouble.

Often in series, another player emerges who helps a team win a game or two and that would appear to be Evan Turner. He's always either fully engaged or an uninterested observer on the floor, and the Blazers will need the former in this series.

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Come on y'all!! Y'all knew I wasn't cutting it lol. #AprilFools We got ya!! @redbull pic.twitter.com/l4H63aOEAW

— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) April 1, 2018
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Pels' Backcourt Must Match Points & Have the Brow Dominate

Chances are New Orleans is not going to contain Lillard and McCollum. Instead, what they will need is a three-prong approach from Jrue Holiday, E'Twaun Moore and Rajon Rondo. Each has different skills, and they can mix it up making outside shots or getting to the rim. If they collectively play Portland's backcourt to even numbers, the advantage shifts to the Pelicans.

Of course, Davis is the difference-maker. If he is controlling the paint, scoring at will and owning the glass, the Blazers are in trouble this entire series. Besides Davis, the two other most important players for New Orleans are Holiday and Nikola Mirotic. The Pelicans are 13.6 points per 100 possession better when Holiday is on the floor compared to when he is not, which is 3rd best in the NBA (min. 1,000 minutes played). Mirotic is like Turner for Portland, the potential game-changer.

What to Expect for Outcome

For NBA picks, it is hard to ignore the Blazers' 28-13 home record and their quality 23-14-2 ATS mark. Yet, it is equally difficult to dismiss New Orleans' road record at 24-17 and is more effective against the spread at 26-15 ATS away from home.

This looks like a seven-game series, and the Pelicans will win one time in Rip City, so why not Saturday night? These teams split four games this season and the SU winner is 15-0 ATS since 2014. Take New Orleans.

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