NBA Betting – Skidding Blazers Meet Surging Spurs
Zack GarrisonNo comments
Last year’s Northwest Division champs, the Portland Trail Blazers (4-7, 2-4 Away), were predicted to take a step back this season after losing LaMarcus Aldridge and Wes Matthews in the offseason. The squad got off to a hot 4-2 start, but have now dropped five in a row and look poised to make it six as they visit Aldridge’s new team, the San Antonio Spurs (7-2, 3-0 Home), at the AT&T Center tonight (8:30 PM Eastern).
The Blazers have already dropped a game to Aldridge and the Spurs on their current slide, falling 113-101 in Portland was last Wednesday. The former Longhorn dropped 23 points in the win.
With the first game against his former mates out of the way, Aldridge will be more relaxed for tonight’s tilt.
“It’s just another game now,” he explained to the Associated Press. “Going up there meant more, and it was blown up. Them coming here doesn’t mean anything, it’s just another game now.”
With Aldridge and Matthews out of the pictures, Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has become the undisputed focal point of the offense. Lillard had a torrid start to the year, but has shot just 14 of 40 over the last two games, in which the team has averaged just 97.0 PPG (five off its 102.3 season-average).
Lillard is trying to maintain a positive outlook, though.
“I’m just happy that we won four games early, because instead of us being 1-9, we’re 4-7,” he told the team’s official website. “[I]t’s something to work with. It could be a lot uglier than it is. A lot of the games that we’ve lost, we were in position to win them.”
Friday’s contest in Memphis was one of those games. The Blazers had a one-point lead in the dying seconds, but failed to box out Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph, who snagged his own rebound for the winning put-back with under a second on the clock.
Portland then fell to the Charlotte Hornets yesterday (104-96), bringing the current losing-streak to five games.
San Antonio comes into tonight on a streak of its own. Winners of four straight, the Spurs have an early 1.5-game lead over the Mavericks in the hyper-competitive Southwest Division. They also sit second in the Western Conference, trailing only the still-undefeated Warriors (11-0).
San Antonio cruised to an easy win over the winless 76ers last time out (92-83) even as Kawhi Leonard (upper respiratory infection) and Manu Ginobili (adductor strain) rested.
Both players are probable to be back in the lineup tonight, which is good news for the team. Leonard is averaging a team-high 21.9 PPG to go along with nearly eight rebounds and two steals. The aging (or is it ageless?) Ginobili is pitching in with 11 points per night in just 20 minutes of action, connecting at a 50-percent clip from the field and over 40-percent from beyond the arc.
The red-hot Spurs are laying 12 points tonight, which is a lot against a half-decent Portland team led by one of the best young guards in the association. That said, the trends don’t look good for Lillard and company; the Blazers are just 1-5 ATS in their last six in San Antonio, 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 road games, and 1-4 ATS in their last five games, overall. Take the Spurs to cover the double-digit spread.
Pick: Spurs (-12).