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Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers NBA Odds & Picks: Back Portland With CJ McCollum Returning (Tuesday, March 16)

Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers NBA Odds & Picks: Back Portland With CJ McCollum Returning (Tuesday, March 16) article feature image

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: CJ McCollum.

  • The Pelicans and Blazers start a mini two-game set on Tuesday night in Portland.
  • Portland is coming off a surprising loss to Minnesota but will be getting guard CJ McCollum back after two months out due to injury.
  • Roberto Arguello details why he likes the Trail Blazers to bounce back and win as short home favorites.

Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Pelicans Odds-1
Trail Blazers Odds+1
Moneyline-110 / -110
TimeTuesday, 9 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday and via PointsBet

The Pelicans face the Trail Blazers for the second time this season on Tuesday night in Portland. These teams will meet again on Thursday in the Pacific Northwest, as well.

The Trail Blazers beat the Pelicans, 126-124, on Feb. 17 in New Orleans as Damian Lillard scored 43 points, which included the game-winning 3-point play with 16.5 seconds left in the game.

The Pelicans are seeking their third straight win after blowing out the Cavaliers on Friday and Clippers on Sunday, while the Trail Blazers hope to bounce back after losing 114-112 to the Timberwolves on Sunday.

Portland will get a huge boost as CJ McCollum will make his return from a foot injury that sidelined him since Jan. 16.

This should be an exciting game if you love offense. Both offenses rank among the top seven in Offensive Rating while the defenses rank among the bottom three defensively.

New Orleans Pelicans

If the Pelicans win, they’ll need to dominate in the paint and have someone get hot shooting from beyond the arc, where they’ll be shorthanded without JJ Redick due to a heel injury.

The Pelicans need to take advantage of the Trail Blazers’ lack of size down low. Enes Kanter is the lone center available for Portland and although he is a quality rebounder, he is undersized against the likes of Steven Adams and Zion Williamson inside.

The Trail Blazers are 23rd in offensive rebound rate allowed at 26.3%, while the Pelicans lead the league by grabbing 29.5% of offensive rebounds. New Orleans will need to take advantage of their size in the post and on the glass since the Trail Blazers are a much more potent shooting team, especially with McCollum back in the fold.

Defensively, the Pelicans need to improve their perimeter defense. They are allowing the third-most 3-point attempts in the league with their opponents taking 41.8% of their shots from beyond the arc. This bodes poorly against a Blazers offense that takes the second-most 3-pointers in the NBA (43.5% of their shots).

The Pelicans have the third-worst Defensive Rating in the league at 117.5, but their 114.3 defensive rating over their last six games ranks 16th in the NBA over that span.

Portland Trail Blazers

If the Trail Blazers win and cover, it will be because they stepped up on the defensive end. Portland has arguably the best scorer in the game with Damian Lillard and get McCollum back after an injury derailed what was looking like a career year for him.

McCollum was scoring a career-high 26.7 points per game while shooting a career-high 44.1% on 3-pointers and 47.3% from the field. McCollum’s 126.2 points per 100 shots rank are also a career high and rank in the 94th percentile among combo guards this season, per Cleaning The Glass.

The Blazers are more than capable of winning the game with their offense, but they will need to be better defensively to do so. Their 116.3 Defensive Rating would be the third-worst in the history of the NBA if the season ended today.

Portland will need to limit shots at the rim for the Pelicans to have the best chance of winning. Per Cleaning The Glass, New Orleans attempts 42.1% of its shots at the rim, which is the second-most in the NBA. This could be trouble for a Blazers defense that allows the fourth-most shots at the rim, 36.8%, in the NBA.

Even if shooters make a few 3-pointers for the Pelicans, it will be key to avoid giving Williamson space to operate inside because he is almost unstoppable inside with his incredible combination of speed, strength and athleticism. Williamson is attempting 86% of his shots at the rim while running in the 86th percentile with 131.7 points per 100 shot attempts. The Trail Blazers will need a concerted team effort to limit room for him to drive the ball without their top two rim protectors in Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) and Zach Collins (ankle).

Pelicans-Trail Blazers Pick

With McCollum back in action and the Blazers coming off of a disappointing loss to the Timberwolves, I love this spot to bet on them as short favorites at home. Lillard is the only player in the league averaging 30 points and eight assists this season, and McCollum was playing at an All-Star level before the injury. Even if McCollum isn’t back to his best form yet, his presence will be a huge help to take some of the load off Lillard.

Both defenses have been atrocious this season, and each gives up the shots that the opposing offense likes to take. However, I give the edge to the Trail Blazers here as I trust Lillard and McCollum to get better quality shots than the Pelicans, and they will have a larger margin for error with their three-point shooting advantage.

Take the Trail Blazers at -1 to cover with value down to -3.

Pick: Trail Blazers -1 (up to -3)

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