Thursday, August 13:
Portland Trail Blazers (-10) vs. Brooklyn Nets
- Moneyline: POR -500
- Over/Under: 236.5
- Coverage: TNT at 9:00pm EST
Courtesy of the ailing Grizzlies’ recent loss to Boston, the Trail Blazers now control their own destiny with respect to the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s afternoon games involving the Grizzlies, Suns, and Spurs, all of whom lurk 0.5 games back in the standings, Portland can secure both a spot and an advantage in the play-in game with a win over Brooklyn.
The Nets prevailed 119-115 in their lone matchup with Portland at the Moda Center in November, and despite Vegas’ fondness for Portland on Thursday, the contest may be another closely contested affair. The Nets are winners of three consecutive games and recently reactivated Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen from the injury report, providing ample firepower to counter the impending offensive barrage from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
While Portland is an impressive 5-2 since the restart, they’ve yet to blow a game wide open, as evidenced by their five winning margins of 5, 8, 10, 3, and 3 points. The Blazers were favored by double digits just once this season, and the result was not only a failure to cover the spread, but an outright loss to Golden State. It’s difficult to see a scenario in which the Trail Blazers don’t punctuate their improbable playoff push with a victory over the Nets, but there’s reason to doubt whether they can cover such an expansive point spread.
Game Pick: Brooklyn +10
Prop Pick: Damian Lillard Over 36.5 Points
With teammate CJ McCollum playing through a fractured lower back, the onus to carry the Blazers’ offense will again fall on all-star Damian Lillard. Dame dropped 60 points on Brooklyn in their sole meeting this season, and he scored 51 and 61 points, respectively, in his two most recent efforts opposite the Sixers and Mavericks. With Vegas expecting Portland to score 123 points and Brooklyn ranking amongst the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game, defensive resistance won’t be particularly high on either end of the court.
Beyond the stats sheet, Dame likewise has a knack for recording historic performances on the sport’s biggest stages, and Thursday’s must-win game to clinch a playoff berth will be no different. Look for Lillard to outperform his post-restart scoring average of 37 PPG and activate his “Dame-time” clutch gene.
- Steve Dykes – USA TODAY Sports
- Jennifer Stewart – Hypebeast