Kawhi Leonard is back for the Clippers on Tuesday night. (Photo by PI/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
- The surging Los Angeles Clippers are big favorites against the swooning Portland Trail Blazers tonight (TNT, 10 p.m. EST)
- The Blazers are without Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic, while Kawhi Leonard is expected back at full-strength for LA after returning from a foot injury on Saturday
- Read below for odds, a breakdown and pick on the game
Things haven’t been so hot for the Portland Trail Blazers recently, and they aren’t likely to get any better on Tuesday night.
The Los Angeles Clippers have won eight of their last ten games and are 8.5-point favorites against a depleted Blazers side. Portland will be without its best player, Damian Lillard, and head coach Terry Stotts confirmed that he will rest Jusuf Nurkic as well.
The Clippers won their last meeting earlier this month at home, 133-116 as 6.5-point favorites.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Portland Trail Blazers Odds
|Team||Spread at DraftKings||Moneyline||Total|
|Los Angeles Clippers||-8.5 (-110)||-375||O 226.5 (-113)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+8.5 (-110)||+295||U 226.5 (-108)|
Odds as of April 20th
Looking for Answers Without Lillard
Portland’s star point guard has missed the team’s last two games with a hamstring injury, and it’s not clear if he will be available for Wednesday’s game against Denver, either.
Clutch FG% leaders (Min. 50 attempts)
Russell Westbrook – 55.7% (34/61)
Damian Lillard – 53.4% (39/73)
Jamal Murray – 50.9% (27/53)
James Harden – 50.9% (27/53)
Nikola Jokic – 50.7% (37/73)
LeBron James – 47.6% (30/63)
De’Aaron Fox – 47.1% (40/85)
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) April 19, 2021
Portland is 2-3 in its last five games overall and ATS with an equal tally in its last five games at the Moda Center. This season, the Blazers are 11-17 ATS at home, and in scenarios where they have had the same time between games as their opponent – as is the case on Tuesday – they are 12-18 ATS.
Lillard accounts for roughly a quarter of the team’s offense when he’s on the floor, which is a significant problem against the Clippers, who have scored at least 124 points in four of their last six games.
Whether or not Lillard is active, Portland has one of the league’s worst defenses. The Blazers allow the fifth-most points per game and opponents shoot nearly 48% from the field against them. When Nurkic is available, he gives a bit of lift down low on both ends of the floor, but without him, the Blazers are woefully thin in the frontcourt.
Kawhi to PG and the fans love it.@kawhileonard 🤝 @Yg_Trece pic.twitter.com/n1shteXnWs
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 19, 2021
Portland and Los Angeles have scored the fewest points in the paint in the league over their last three games. Conversely, the Clippers have allowed the third-fewest points down low defensively, while Portland has been a bottom-third defensive side in that area. Where the Blazers typically make up for that is with three-point shooting, but that has taken a significant dip without Lillard. This season, the Clippers have been the best three-point shooting team in the league and the seventh-best three-point defense.
2021 NBA MVP Award Odds Tracker
Hot Streaks for Leonard, George
The Clippers duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been on another level in recent games. Against Minnesota on Saturday, George scored 23 points; his lowest total since April 4 against the Lakers.
In his next five starts following the Lakers game, he scored no fewer than 32 points, and had 37 against Philadelphia on April 16.
Called for it. ☝🏾@Reggie_Jackson➡️ @kawhileonard pic.twitter.com/JuCpJa9g9B
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 19, 2021
George’s point share slid a bit against Minnesota due to Leonard’s return from a foot ailment that kept him out of Los Angeles’ previous four games. Leonard played just under 23 minutes in Saturday’s win, but scored 15 points and shot 54% from the field. In the eight games he played before missing time, Leonard scored at least 23 points in all but one outing.
Fade the Blazers
The Blazers still hold the sixth seed in the Western Conference, but they’re fading fast. Meanwhile, with Leonard back in the lineup, the Clippers are continuing their charge and are well within striking distance of one of the conference’s two top seeds. Even with all the points the Clippers have been scoring recently, games for both teams have ended under combined point projections more often than not.
Portland has done well to not turn the ball over on offense, but the Clippers are a far more efficient team in nearly every other meaningful category. This would still be a difficult matchup for the Blazers with Lillard in the lineup, but covering against the league’s top defense without him is too much of a hurdle to clear, even at 8.5 points.
- The Pick: Los Angeles -8.5 (-110)
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Nick Krueger has over a decade of experience in sports media, covering a wide range of events including two Olympic Games for Yahoo Sports. Other areas of focus for Nick throughout his career have included college football recruiting, NCAA athletics and Major League Baseball Spring Training.