Portland’s Damian Lillard is coming off a 45 point, 12 assist, 3 steal performance against Denver. Photo by @TheHoopCentral (Twitter).
- The Clippers are 4.5-point favorites against the Trail Blazers on Saturday
- Both Portland and Los Angeles are 3-1 against the spread in the Orlando bubble
- Read below for a preview and betting prediction for this Western Conference matchup
There’s less than a week left until the start of the NBA playoffs, and Saturday’s opening game will feature two teams with their sights set on the postseason. Kawhi Leonard and Los Angeles will take on Damian Lillard and Portland, and the Clippers vs Trail Blazers odds give LA the edge.
Clippers vs Trail Blazers Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total at FanDuel|
|Los Angeles Clippers||-4.5 (-110)||-196||Over 234 (-110)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+4.5 (-110)||+164||Under 234 (-110)|
Odds taken Aug. 7
Blazers on Fire
Now over a week into the bubble, perhaps the top story of the NBA’s Orlando restart has been the way the Portland Trail Blazers have caught fire and played their way into potential playoff contention. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Portland came to Orlando 3.5 games behind Memphis, needing to be within 4 at the end of the regular season to force a play-in series. The Blazers have gone 3-1 in Orlando, a stretch in which Damian Lillard put up 45 against Denver and hasn’t scored fewer than 20 in a game. In the meantime, the Grizzlies are falling apart, with Jaren Jackson Jr. done for the year with a meniscus tear and the team on a 1-4 slide.
The other key to Portland’s hot streak has been Jusuf Nurkic. His return has provided a massive boost to this team, and it has been in Orlando where things have really clicked. Not only has he posted 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game in the bubble, but he provides a needed balance in the front court for a team that features Lillard, as well as CJ McCollum and a surging Gary Trent Jr, at guard.
Clippers Need to Hold Off Denver
The start for Los Angeles has been less electric than Portland’s and more workmanlike. The Clippers are 2-2 in the bubble, with a 15-point win against Dallas and a 23-point victory against New Orleans, as well as a tight but encouraging loss against the Lakers without Louis Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
The focus for Doc Rivers’ squad now becomes holding off Denver and keeping a grip on the 2-seed in the Western Conference. They have a 1.5-game lead entering Saturday, so Los Angeles can’t take its foot off the pedal if they want to stay at 2.
For the Clippers, it’s been the dynamic duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George that have gotten the job done, posting north of a combined 50 points per game in the bubble. Few teams have had the wings to defend both of these guys, and when they’ve gotten rolling, they’ve made things look easy on the offensive side of the ball.
One player that’s hit a surprising hot stretch has been Ivica Zubac. The center has posted games of 18 points and 12 rebounds, and 21 points and 15 boards in the Clippers’ last two contests, and against Dallas, he didn’t miss a shot, going 10-for-10.
What’s the Best Bet?
Both of these squads are hot, but that won’t make it hard to find the pick for this game. Instead of picking a side, it’s the total that sees the best value for this Saturday matchup.
As mentioned prior, many teams don’t have the sort of defensive wings that can limit Leonard and George. That is again the case against Portland, especially considering the absence of Trevor Ariza. He opted out of the bubble, and the Blazers have missed him on the defensive end of the court.
They’ve made up for it, though, with their offensive output. The hot trio of guards, along with Nurkic, have been a big part of the reason that three of Portland’s four games in the bubble have gone over the total. The Clippers’ Pat Beverley, a key defensive piece in Los Angeles’ backcourt, is listed as doubtful with a calf injury, so the already-hot Blazers could see a depleted group of players trying to guard Lillard, McCollum, and Trent.
The Clippers are still absent Harrell as well, just another defensive piece missing from this game.
The Pick: Over 234 (-110)
With four years as radio host with The Ticket Sports Network and various written contributions to publications such as Fansided, Southbound and Down, and Last Word on Sports, Jake Mitchell comes to SBD with NFL, NBA, NCAAM, NCAAF and MMA know-how you can count on.