Paul to show Clips the way past Blazers?

Paul to show Clips the way past Blazers?

Saturday’s 96-88 victory was a big first step. In order to truly hurl the monkey that is Los Angeles off its back, though, Portland must follow up with another esteemed showing this evening.

The Trail Blazers host the Clippers in an even-more-crucial-than-normal Game 4, with a 10:30 p.m. ET tip at Moda Center. Despite the events of the weekend, oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI categorize Doc Rivers’ group as a 4-point favorite. The over/under total sits at 205 points.

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Two nights ago, Damian Lillard rediscovered his stroke to help Portland snap a five-game slide in the head-to-head series. The point guard poured in 32 points on 10-of-20 shooting, while backcourt sidekick C.J. McCollum went for 25 and also canned 50 percent of his attempts from the field. Perhaps most surprising of all, the Blazers dominated the Clips in the paint. The home squad owned a 56-44 rebounding advantage after Los Angeles had a 100-92 advantage over the first two affairs. Center Mason Plumlee loomed especially large with a career-high 21 points and nine boards.

Granted, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan probably won’t be held to a combined nine field goals again. Portland coach Terry Stotts will have his hands full with Chris Paul, too, as the Clippers’ floor general is averaging 26.3 points and 8.3 assists so far. Rivers simply possesses too much talent to watch these weapons fall short of 90.

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We realize that Rip City presents one of the league’s toughest environments for an opposing club. Yet Los Angeles distinctly recalls the ignominy of letting a 3-1 edge slip away vs. Houston in last year’s Western Conference semifinals. The Clips can’t afford to play around with the Blazers here, meaning Stotts’ troops stand to absorb just their fifth defeat in the last 26 contests in the Pacific Northwest.

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