Yesterdays Results: 1-2
All-Time Results: 18-15. +1.75 units
Portland Trailblazers -12.5 vs. Phoenix Suns – 1 unit
1. Major motivational edge is the basis of my pick here. After winning three straight, the Phoenix Suns have thrown the “worst team in the league” label off their backs for the time being. They will be excused by an organization praying for the #1 pick if they relax heading up to face a Portland team that has dominated them recently. The Blazers have won 9 straight against the Suns and have beaten them 3 times this year by an average of 19.7 points. The focus of the Suns will be on player development this game and not winning or staying close.
2. The Trailblazers have been one of the league’s better teams coming off a loss and will enjoy the opportunity to flex their muscles. Particularly their newcomers on the second unit will relish the chance to put up margin. Enes Kanter has yet to post a positive +/- in 7 games with the Blazers. If he wants to prove he can be a legitimate rotation player in the playoffs, he ought to dominate tonight against a Phoenix team that only plays one traditional big in DeAndre Ayton, whose primary weakness is interior defense and boxing out. Suns as a team have the worst defensive rebounding rate in the NBA. Kanter will feast. Rodney Hood & Zach Collins also need to show out to earn playing time going forward.
3. Blowing a 16 point first quarter lead to the Grizzlies last week, the Blazers learned their lesson of what can happen if you relax against a bottom team. They won’t be so quick to take their foot off the pedal in this one.
Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie OVER 16.5 points -.5 units
1. Dinwiddie has shaken off the rust now 5 games back from his return from thumb surgery. The Hawks have been exposed time again by quality point guards as Trey Young has to guard someone out there and he is not yet ready to play legitimate NBA defense. The Hawks also lack an interior presence that scares opposing players away from the rim. I expect both De’Angelo Russell and Dinwiddie both to play well tonight. Dinwiddie provides more value as he is still being priced like a player returning from injury, when in fact he is closer to mid-season form.
2. Now is the time of the year where the tankers tank and the players play – I expect the Nets to be motivated for this matchup and rightful favorites at -180. Dinwiddie has averaged 19.6 points in the 28 wins he has been a part of this year for the Nets.
3. Total is set at 238 so there will be plenty of points to go around.
Boston Celtics -1.5 @ Los Angeles Lakers – 1st quarter – .5 units
1. The Celtics have the best first quarter scoring margin in the league, outscoring their opponents by 2.8 points in the opening frame. A lot of this trend is due to their strong starting unit, and a lot of it is due to having quality reserves like Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown eager make their imprint on the game in the final few minutes of the first.
2. The Lakers will be experimenting with rotations, as they have placed LeBron James on a minutes restriction for the rest of the season. This might mean that he comes out with as much as four of five minutes left in the 1st. The Lakers also woke up to crushing news this morning, learning that Brandon Ingram will miss the rest of the season due to Deep Vein Thrombosis. Kyle Kuzma and reserve Lance Stephenson are also questionable for the game. Outside of LeBron, the Lakers are running out of players that can reliably score.
3. The Lakers have opened games very poorly since LeBron has returned into the lineup, with a sluggish attitude and lack of cohesiveness. They have lost 10 out of their last 13 first quarters.