Can Lillard, Blazers climb back vs. Clippers?

Can Lillard, Blazers climb back against Clippers?

Portland’s C.J. McCollum picked up a nice piece of hardware yesterday. Perhaps it can serve as a momentary distraction from the dire straits facing his team.

Tonight, the NBA’s Most Improved Player tries to lead the Trail Blazers out of a 0-2 series hole vs. the Clippers. Despite an impressive body of work at the Moda Center, though, Terry Stotts’ group won’t get the benefit of the doubt from oddsmakers. Online sports book Bovada.lv positions Los Angeles as a 1-point favorite in Game 3. The over/under figure rests at 208 points.

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Neither McCollum nor backcourt mate Damian Lillard can attest to much success so far. Lillard has missed 26 of 39 attempts from the floor, while McCollum’s average of 12.5 points per game lags well behind his regular-season rate (20.8). It also doesn’t help that Portland continues to get middling production from the interior duo of Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee.

Perhaps a return to Rip City will solve at least some of the woes. The Blazers’ 18-3 home record since Jan. 23 trails only San Antonio and Golden State. Over that same span, they’ve posted the league’s third-highest scoring average at 111.9 points, too.

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What’s the recipe for neutralizing Chris Paul, though? Los Angeles’ do-everything point guard totaled 42 points and 16 assists in the first two contests, getting immense bench help in Wednesday’s 102-81 rout. The general outlook here seems very comparable to last year’s Western Conference quarterfinals, and we all know how that picture played out for hoops enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest.

SATURDAY NBA FREE PICK: CLIPPERS/BLAZERS OVER 208 POINTS

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