Portland Trail Blazers at Indiana Pacers Preview
Thursday Night’s slate features what should be a competitive cross conference matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers. Portland is hoping to stay in contention for the 8th seed in the west but currently sit 3 games but of Memphis for that spot with a record of 26-33. Portland has been struggling as of late losing 4 of their last 5. The Pacers on the other hand look virtually locked in to a top 6 seed in the East with their 34-24 record. This is the second time these two teams will meet this year. The 1st contest saw the Trail Blazers take a 139-129 win at home.
Time: 7 PM CST
Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Fox Sports Indiana
Blazers: Damian Lillard (Out), Zach Collins (Out), Jusuf Nurkic (Out), Rodney Hood (Out)
Portland Trail Blazers Starting Lineup
It has been a disappointing season thus far for the Trail Blazers who were expected to return to the playoffs after finishing as the 3rd seed last season. Injuries have played their part in the inconsistency of this Portland team as key contributors such as Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, and Rodney Hood are all currently sidelined. Portland will also be at a huge disadvantage on Thursday due to the fact that All-Star Damian Lillard will miss his 4th straight game. They are a completely different team without Lillard currently in the midst of the best season of his impressive career.
C.J. McCollum will see increased opportunities with Lillard sidelined and should assume the role of primary ball-handler. He is coming off an impressive 28-point; 10 assist outing in their loss against the Celtics. Hassan Whiteside also put up an incredible 18 point and 19 rebound double double. Whiteside has put together a career resurgence the year in Portland and is leading the NBA in blocks with over 3 a game.
Portland will have an uphill battle against a tough Pacers team. Their starting lineup has put together solid production but there is a lack of depth with the numerous injuries. The Trail Blazers could use a big performance of their bench to help boost their offense. They are top-5 in the NBA in 3-point percentage and should look to use this advantage over a Pacers team that attempts the least 3-pointers in the NBA.
Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup
Indiana will look to notch their 4th win in their last 5 game against the Trail Blazers. This stretch is coming off a season high 6-game losing streak which they snapped against the NBA’s best Milwaukee Bucks prior to the All-Star break. Indiana should get a huge boost in the second half of the year with Victor Oladipo returning but he has now been sidelined once again with a back injury. The Pacers also just lost Jeremy Lamb for the season on Monday so their wing depth has taken a hit.
With Oladipo injured, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and T.J. Warren will have the keys to the offense. These three combined for 55 points in their 119-80 rout of the Hornets. Sabonis’ performance was the most impressive in his 1st All-Star year. He put up a near triple-double while leading the Pacers in scoring with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists.
The Pacers should have an advantage against Portland’s 27th ranked defense. Indiana does most of their damage in the paint and should be able to win the interior despite Hassan Whiteside’s rim protection.
Key Player Matchup
Domantas Sabonis vs Carmelo Anthony
This matchup is key due to the fact that Sabonis should have a huge advantage offensively and on the glass. Sabonis is a matchup nightmare for stretch 4s like Carmelo. I’m not sure that Melo will be on him a majority of the time but Sabonis should have a field day with Whiteside on Myles Turner.
My favorite play in this matchup is, you guessed it, Domantas Sabonis and he comes at a great price of $8,400 for his value. I think McCollum and Whiteside will give you good production as well but some cheaper options that I like are Malcolm Brogdon ($5,900), Gary Trent ($4,400), and Aaron Holiday ($4,200).
Bet on Matchup
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