Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers (-3.5, 205.5 o/u)
Coming into tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers (25-13, 8-7 away), the Portland Trail Blazers (30-8, 18-3 home) have won three straight at home over Doc Rivers’ team. Portland, which is also seeking its fifth straight win overall, is currently playing some of its best basketball of the season, not only winning its last four games by more than 10.5 points each, but also holding all four opponents to under 100 points.
Portland currently has the best defense in the NBA, surrendering just over 96 points per game. The team is 25-2 on the year when keeping opponents below 100 points. For point guard Damian Lillard, it’s the emphasis on defense that marks the biggest difference compared to last year’s team.
“Last year we were a young team, and we were new to winning,” Lillard said. “I think now we are one of those teams. We win without depending on offense. We play together, we get along, we are confident in ourselves.
“We’ve won 30 games. I just think we have to keep the same mentality that we’ve had.”
Offensively, the team team is no slouch, sitting sixth in the league at 103.8 PPG. Lillard and forward Lamarcus Aldridge both average just over 22 points per game to lead the team, and Lillard had 34 during the Trail Blazers most recent win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I wanted to get some popcorn and just have a seat,” said Aldridge regarding Lillard. “He got to the rim, finished strong and made his shots. I don’t mind it at all.”
As for the Clippers, the team has lost five consecutive road games. It will be incumbent on the team’s offense to put an end to the skid; when shooting 46.5% or better from the floor, the Clippers are 18-1.
But Rivers knows that shooting well against Portland is no easy feat.
“I think where they’ve had the biggest jump is in their defense,” Rivers said. “They’re so much better. Last year they were a great offensive team and they struggled defensively. This year they’re a great offensive team and they’re very, very good defensively.”
Because of that good defense, and the fact Portland is 15-22-1 o/u this season, the play here is the under (205.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)