Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans (11/10 @ 8:00 PM EST)
Spread: Pelicans -6.5
Money Line: Blazers +225 / Pelicans -286
Overview and Betting Info
The Portland Trail Blazers (7-3) will visit the New Orleans Pelicans (5-5) Thursday night in a matchup of playoff hopefuls. The overall series is tied at 36-36 thanks to the Pelicans taking all three games last season. It was an impressive sweep the previous season, but they only faced Lillard and Simons in one of those games. Conversely, the Blazers did not see this Pelicans with Zion. Assuming they all play, this should be a very different game.
The Blazers are 8-2 versus the spread, covering four of their last five. They’ve covered seven of the nine games they’ve had as an underdog.
The Pelicans have not fared as well, going 4-6 against the spread. They are 1-2 at home and have failed to cover in four straight games.
Portland Trail Blazers
After starting the season 4-0, the Blazers have alternated wins and losses. When (29 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.8 APG) Damian Lillard and Afernee Simons (22.34 PPG) are healthy, this is one of the more dangerous offenses in the league. That hasn’t been the case much this season, as Lillard has only played in six games, and Simons has played in eight. With the Blazers coming off a game last night, one or both may get a night off on Thursday.
While Lillard and Simons have led the team in scoring, the Blazers have a lot of talent that has stepped up to help the Blazers start 7-3. Forward Jerami Grant has stepped up in Lillard’s absence to averaging 22.5 points over their last four games (18.4 on the season) and is averaging over 34 minutes. He’s played in all of Portland’s games, along with center Jusuf Nurkic (13 PPG, 11.2 RPG). Keep an eye on Nurkic Thursday night as he is currently day-to-day and will be facing one of the best frontcourts in the country with Zion, Ingram, and Valanciunas. If Nurkic can’t go or is hobbled by injury, the Pelican’s big men could dominate for an easy victory on Thursday.
One thing the Blazers have done well all season is shooting the 3, as they’re third in the NBA at 39.5%. Simons, Lillard, Grant, and Shaedon Sharpe are all shooting 36% or better from 3. This will be crucial against a Pelicans team that is solid down low, but the Pelicans have allowed the fewest threes in the NBA. If the Blazers want a win, they will need to find a way to get their shooters open.
New Orleans Pelicans
While the Pelicans have started at 5-5, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about their season. The biggest reason for hope is the return of Zion Williamson (23.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.3 APG), who is off to a strong start as he gets back into form. They also have Brandon Ingram back on the court after an injury, meaning they are finally at full power. When they are both healthy, they make this Pelican’s offense one of the best in the NBA.
Despite the Ingram injury and Zion being eased back in, this New Orleans offense averages the most points per game (118.5), thanks to a roster with a ton of depth. CJ McCollum (20.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.3 APG) and Jonas Valanciunas (14.4 PPG, 10.3 RPG) have been fantastic to begin the season, with one leading the team in scoring in five of their ten games. Valanciunas was outstanding last season, filling in for Zion, and has settled in nicely behind Ingram and Zion. It’s a massive weapon to have coming off the bench, and it will put much pressure on a thin Blazers frontcourt.
The Pelicans are not far behind the Blazers in making 3’s, as they’re hitting 38.8% of their attempts this season. Their shooters is opened up by the play of their talented big men, giving McCollum (32.8%) and Ingram (54.5%) great looks from beyond the arc. New Orleans also has a couple of sharpshooters coming off the bench in Trey Murphy III (45.5%) and Jose Alvarado (42.9%). The combination of size down low and this level of 3-point shooting is why this is the highest-scoring team in the NBA.
Free Pick: Blazer’s +6.5
The Pelicans may be better on paper, but the Blazers are playing better basketball right now. Even if Lillard and/or Simon’s doesn’t suit up, this steam has shown they are deep enough to be competitive without them. We like Nurkic’s chances against this Pelican’s backcourt, and Jerami Grant has shown he can lead this team when needed.
We’re taking the points to roll with the Blazers Thursday night.