Game: Portland Trail Blazers @ Los Angeles Clippers
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Trail Blazers +135, Clippers -150
Any news of the Clippers early in this new NBA season usually includes something about Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers star is out indefinitely while he recovers from offseason knee surgery. There have been reports that Leonard could return around midseason while others say he could miss the entire regular season. Regardless, he will definitely miss tonight’s game against Portland.
In Leonard’s absence, Paul George, the other Clippers star, has picked up some of the slack. In two games so far – both Clippers losses – George is averaging 35 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. George had 41 points in LA’s loss to Memphis on Saturday. At some point, George is going to need some help from the Clippers supporting cast. It is early, but too many more losses and the Clippers could play themselves right out of the postseason.
Los Angeles will host a Portland team that has a red-hot scorer through the team’s first two games. If you were thinking Damian Lillard as most would, you would be wrong in this case. It’s actually C.J. McCollum that is off to a hot start. McCollum is averaging 31 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists so far. Lillard has actually been cold, but he is still averaging 19.5 points a game. Lillard missed all nine of his three-point attempts in the Trail Blazers season opener, a loss to Sacramento.
Portland is leading the league in scoring averaging 127.5 points per game so far. If Lillard gets hot, the Trail Blazers could continue to be a scoring machine. The Clippers have been playing a bit differently than last year. Without Leonard, LA has pushed the pace a bit. That has resulted in the Clippers giving up an average of 117.5 points a game. That ranks 28th in the league right now.
With two teams that are playing at a fast pace, one would expect a higher total than 231. It’s a small sample size this season, but both of Portland’s games have gone Over the posted total. The Clippers’ last game against Memphis went Over, which gives LA three Overs in their last four games. If you go back to last season, eight of Portland’s last nine games have seen the total go Over. On top of all that, the Over has hit in four of the last five Trail Blazers-Clippers games.
The Clippers are a 3-point home favorite. Four players – Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Ivica Zubac – are all averaging in double figures in addition to George. The problem is that none of those players can draw enough attention away from George.
Portland also has a number of players – Jusuf Nurkic, Norman Powell, and Anfernee Simmons – who average in double figures. In fact, they all average over 14 points a game. Portland has plenty of offense, but the Trail Blazers are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games. The Clippers are 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games and 4-1 ATS in their last five games against Portland at home.