With Damian Lillard Balling, Back Blazers to Muzzle Timberwolves

lillard blazers

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 6:08 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 6:08 PM UTC

The home team has dominated the Timberwolves-Trail Blazers series of late, and there’s no reason to doubt that continues on Thursday in Portland.

Minnesota (38-26, 30-32-2 ATS) at Portland (35-26, 30-26-5 ATS)Free NBA Pick: BlazersBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Light schedule per usual around the NBA on Thursday, and the latest-starting matchup (10:30 p.m. on TNT) is the final meeting of the regular season between the Northwest Division rival Timberwolves and Trail Blazers. The Northwest is easily the most wide-open division in the NBA – if anyone even cares about division titles – with Minnesota, Portland, Oklahoma City and Denver all still having realistic chances to win it.

The Timberwolves are 2-1 vs. the Trail Blazers this season, so a victory Thursday would clinch the season series and thus give Minnesota a potentially huge tiebreaker. The home team is 3-0 in the 2017-18 series and has taken six in a row overall between the two.

They last met on Jan. 24 in the Pacific Northwest and Portland prevailed 123-114 as a 3.5-point NBA betting favorite. Damian Lillard scored 31 points and CJ McCollum scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. Portland made 17 three-pointers on 31 attempts (54.8 percent). The Wolves didn’t have All-Star Jimmy Butler, just as they won’t for about the next four weeks. Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota, which was down as many as 19 in the fourth, with 24 points but was minus-24. The Wolves were only 6-for-16 from long range.

Minnesota is just 2-9-1 ATS in its past 12 visits to Portland.

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Butler Down, Lillard Rising

Butler’s meniscus surgery on Sunday certainly opened up the division race and perhaps the chance to finish as high as third in the West behind Houston and Golden State. Minnesota should still make the postseason for the first time since 2004 but could easily slide down to 7th or 8th in the West and then face the Rockets or Warriors in the first round. Butler claims he will be back for the postseason. The Blazers won’t miss him as he averaged 30.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the two games he played vs. Portland.

Nemanja Bjelica has moved into the starting lineup at small forward, shifting Wiggins to shooting guard. Minnesota has gone 2-0 against bad teams since Butler went down and comes off a 118-110 victory on Sacramento on Monday. Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 17 rebounds for his NBA-leading 54th double-double of the season. Wiggins had 22 points. Both those guys are playing heavy minutes, especially now, but what’s new under Tom Thibodeau? Wiggins and Towns are both 1-2 in total minutes played in the NBA, and neither has taken a game off. In six games without Butler this season, Wiggins is averaging 24.7 points per game.

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And at just the right time. pic.twitter.com/9L572MwEzg

— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 28, 2018

The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis is likely going to be named Western Conference Player of the Month for February, but Lillard has an argument. Portland won its fourth straight game overall and 11th in the past 12 at home on Tuesday, 116-99 over the Kings. Lillard had 26 points and 12 assists.

Lillard averaged 31.4 points in February, the most by any Blazer in any month ever (minimum 10 games). The previous mark was 30.4 ppg by Geoff Petrie in March 1971. Lillard has scored 223 points over the past six games, the most points scored by a Trail Blazer in any six-game stretch in franchise history. Expect a big game from Lillard here as he’s averaging 23.0 points, 9.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds vs. Minnesota this year.

No reason to bet against Lillard and the Blazers at home right now; they have covered seven of their past eight there. The Wolves are just 3-10 ATS in their past 13 on the road. Take Portland for Thursday’s NBA pick.

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