Blazers ready to rout 76ers?
Portland has traveled too far to let a playoff spot slip from its grasp now. Then there’s the potential for sweet retribution, which should give the host team extra incentive entering tonight’s battle with the 76ers.
Suffice it to say that oddsmakers do not like Philadelphia’s chances of springing a second straight upset in this series. Online sports book Bovada.lv lists the Trail Blazers as 15.5-point favorites, with the over/under total coming in at 216.
Philly led by as many as 32 points during their 114-89 triumph over Portland on Jan. 16. Yes, the same organization that is embroiled in a 1-20 stretch actually throttled the Western Conference’s No. 6 seed two-plus months ago.
At the moment, of course, the Blazers (37-36) don’t exactly give off a surplus of postseason-ready vibes. Terry Stotts’ crew has gone 4-8 since the beginning of March, and fans are still reeling from Thursday’s last-second loss to the Clippers.
Deep within, though, exists another energy reserve. Portland went 17-4 from Jan. 10-Feb. 28. Only two squads – Golden State and San Antonio – put forth superior records during that span. The Trail Blazers also play seven of their final nine at Moda Center, where they’ve captured 14 of 17.
Can the Jahlil Okafor-less 76ers slow down Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum again? The backcourt duo combined to miss 26 of 36 shots in that early-winter embarrassment. They’ll rebound here, as will Rip City in general.
SATURDAY NBA FREE PICK: PORTLAND -15.5