Brooklyn Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers Matchup Preview
The race for the 8th seed and play-in team in the Western Conference has come down to the final game of the regular season. The Brooklyn Nets (35-36) will take on the Portland Trail Blazers (34-39), who are looking to clinch a spot in the Western Conference play-in game with a win. The Trail Blazers currently sit in the 8th spot in the West and clinch that spot if they defeat the Nets. They could also still get in with a loss, but it would require the Suns and Spurs to both lose their games. Portland has had a few big wins as of late, with Damian Lillard dropping 51 points in a win over the 76ers and 61 points in their last win against the Mavericks. Lillard has been willing his team to victory and the playoffs, and one more win would seal the deal for them.
On the other hand, Brooklyn has been exceeding expectations placed upon them in the bubble. The Nets are without several of the best players, including Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeAndre Jordan. However, they are 5-2 in the NBA restart and have taken a significant lead over the Magic to claim the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Although there isn’t much star power on this Brooklyn roster, their level of play as of late could cause problems for Portland.
Time: 9:00 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
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Nets Starting 5
The Nets have won their last three games of NBA bubble action, including a 108-96 win over the Magic in their last game. The Nets were able to win this game while resting four out of their usual five starters, with Rodions Kurucs being the only starter to get minutes. The Nets may roll out a similar lineup against the Trail Blazers in this game. If they do, Portland would have a very good chance to pull out the win. If they don’t, this team could cause some problems for the Blazers. Caris LeVert has been the best player offensively for this team, averaging a solid 18.3 points per game. Joe Harris has been averaging 14.4 points per game for the club on an elite 42.5% shooting from three. Jarrett Allen is also a solid defensive center who was a full-time starter ahead of DeAndre Jordan for the team this season. However, when looking at their matchup against the Blazers, I do not think they have a good chance at winning this game. Portland outmatches them all across the board at nearly every position, even when using all of their starters. I believe that it would take a herculean effort from the Nets to slow down Damian Lillard and this Trail Blazers team.
Trail Blazers Starting 5
Trail Blazers Analysis
After losing the to the Clippers this past Saturday, Damian Lillard and Paul George exchanged some words over social media. Sports media personality Skip Bayless then called out Lillard, which resulted in him putting Bayless on blast publicly. Since then, Dame has let his play on the court do the talking. Lillard dropped 51 points in the Blazers’ win over the Sixers and 61 in their win over the Mavs. Lillard has been a man on a mission and wants to prove his doubters wrong. All this team needs to do in the win against the Brooklyn Nets, and they will clinch a spot in the play-in game for the 8th seed in the West. In addition to Lillard’s recent scoring output, Carmelo Anthony has also been quite useful for the team. He put up 20 points against the Sixers and followed that up with 26 against the Mavs. He also hit a dagger three against the Rockets to propel them to victory earlier in the bubble. Melo has had a career resurgence following his absence over a full year from the NBA with the Blazers. CJ McCollum is also still providing the team plenty of offense but has taken a backseat to allow Dame to go off the last couple of games. The Blazers need to hunker down and win this game to ensure themselves a spot in the play-in game.
Trail Blazers vs 76ers Fantasy Basketball Angle
After seeing what the guy has done the past two games, there is only one player that deserves to be highlighted for the daily fantasy angle in this game. Damian Lillard has been on fire the last two games, seeking to prove his doubters wrong and carry his team to the playoffs. With back to back 50-point games, including 61 against the Mavericks, Lillard is a sure-fire start in fantasy. The man has been flat out disrespected as a star in the league his whole career thanks to the market and team that he plays on. After watching this guy in the bubble, Dame has certainly silenced those doubters. People also forget that he led his team to the Western Conference Finals last season, where they would inevitably lose to the Golden State Warriors. The guy is the real deal and deserves to be respected. With that in mind and considering that Dame has been playing with a chip on his shoulder recently, it would be wise to assume that he is in store for another scoring explosion against the Nets.
Nets vs Trail Blazers Betting Odds
Nets Odds: +325
Trail Blazers Odds: -420
The oddsmakers are favoring the Portland Trail Blazers in this matchup, and that is the right choice. This team has been on fire as of late and needs only one more win to lock themselves into the play-in game for the 8th seed. Brooklyn has been playing well so far in the bubble, but I cannot see them slowing down the freight train that is Damian Lillard and the Blazers. My best bet would be to take the Blazers in this game.
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