Portland Trail Blazers Odds On Winning Under 3.5 Games in The Bubble
The Trail Blazers had a strong season last year, making the Western Conference Finals. Damian Lillard has emerged as a superstar and hopes were high for the season in Portland. Unfortunately, poor roster construction and injuries hampered the team. That’s why taking the Portland Trail Blazers Odds at under 3.5 wins for their regular season bubble games makes sense.
|To Make The Playoffs||Yes||No|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+250||-310|
|San Antonio Spurs||+1700||-3500|
The team lost forward depth by allowing key contributors to leave in the offseason. They then were hit hard by injuries to start the season. Forward Zach Collins was expected to break out this season and minimize the loss of depth at forward during the offseason, but a shoulder injury early in the year sidelined Collins. The Blazers’ holes at small forward led them to sign Carmelo Anthony during the season. Although Anthony has provided solid minutes, he is still a liability on the defensive end that the team has to scheme around in order to be effective.
After a poor start to the season, Portland was making a late run. Yet after contending for a division title last year, the Blazers had a significant drop off in results this season. Still, they can salvage the rough year they had with a run right now and they hope that returning stars Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic can lead the team to the playoffs. In spite of the problems they’ve endured, a team led by Damian Lillard is dangerous to anyone.
Lack of Wings Will Still be an Issue
Unfortunately for Portland, their depth at forward will still be an issue during the bubble. Portland acquired Trevor Ariza in a swap for Kent Bazemore during the season. Ariza came in and provided quality minutes for the team especially on the defensive end. Rodney Hood had also stepped up his game and played quality minutes for the Blazers, helping their lack of wing depth and allowing Lillard and McCollum to be put in a position to succeed.
I’ve enjoyed listening to takes since last July trying to tear down the lakers. Avery Bradley was a huge piece defensively yes, but the lakers went 13-1 without him this season. And the blazers don’t have ariza or hood. They’re not going to make it anyways https://t.co/jFwH9PG2rC
— KG‼️ (@_KLG3) July 7, 2020
Both Ariza and Hood will not be in the bubble, once again decimating their depth at wing. Portland hopes to offset this by the return of Nurkic and Collins, but that is still a big slow frontcourt that quicker teams will be able to exploit. While both Lillard and McCollum are prolific scorers, neither of them are top defenders. This leaves one to wonder…how will Portland get defensive stops?
A lineup of Lillard, McCollum, Anthony, Collins, and Nurkic leaves much to be desired defensively. Most NBA teams will be able to feast on these matchups. Hassan Whiteside will need to play a major role, although he sometimes struggles with help defense. Portland needs Whiteside to step up his game. He will be needed quite often to help defensively because this is a group of players that I cannot see staying in front of their men. As a Portland fan, relying on a consistent defensive intensity from Whiteside is not a position I’d want to be in.
Don’t Discount Lillard
Damian Lillard is a true top player in the NBA. He is often overlooked because as a west coast player many times east coast fans and media are asleep while Dame is putting on shows. Dame has Steph Curry range on his three-point shot, the ability to get to the rim, and ice in his veins when it comes to taking a big shot. When looking to place a bet against the Blazers, this must be taken into consideration. Damian Lillard can single-handedly throw your handicap out the window by carrying an inferior team to victory. If Portland is successful in the bubble it will be for one reason… the greatness of Damian Lillard.
The tough schedule given to the Trail Blazers in the bubble might be too much for even Lillard to overcome. Seven of the eight teams would currently be in the playoffs if the season ended today, making the schedule one of the toughest that any team has to face. Although the Blazers can pull off upset victories, asking them to do it at night after night with little-to-no forward depth and one of the worst defensive lineups in the league is going to be a tall task.
The Blazers only respite is their 8th game against the Nets, but at that point, they may be completely out of contention due to the juggernaut that they are slated to face. They start off against the Grizzlies, an eminently winnable game. From there, however, they face a gauntlet of the Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, Clippers, 76ers, and then the Mavericks. The Blazers definitely have their work cut out for them! If they are able to overcome this and make the playoffs they will once again silence the doubters because this is one of the toughest schedules in the bubble.
Why the Under is the Play
As much as I like Damian Lillard and want to put my money to back him, due to the lack of wing depth, the lack of defensive acumen in their most prominent lineups, and a schedule that will put them through the wringer, I have to play an under on the Blazers bubble schedule. 3.5 is the number, and when we analyze the schedule we see that every game will be a dogfight and the Blazers could be out of contention halfway through the bubble.
I still believe in Damian Lillard and believe he has great things to accomplish in his career, but unfortunately, I do not believe 2020 is his year. I think the Blazers are going to have a tough time in the bubble and will need to spend the offseason addressing the issues of depth, defense, and team speed in order to compete in the stacked Western Conference. That is why I’ve made the play of under 3.5 wins for the Blazers’ regular-season bubble win total.
Suggested Bet: Portland Trail Blazers under 3.5 wins (-115)