Trail Blazers vs. Suns NBA Odds & Picks: Back a High-Scoring Western Conference Game (Thursday, May 13)
Will Navarro/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker.
- Portland enters Thursday playing the second game of a back-to-back after a tough win against Utah.
- Phoenix will likely be the No. 2 seed out West but has been in a rough stretch, dropping three of four games.
- Phillip Kall explains below why targeting the total is the smart play.
Trail Blazers vs. Suns Odds
|Trail Blazers Odds||+5.5|
|Moneyline||+170 / -215|
|Time||Thursday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings|
The Suns had their chance to take a leap toward the top-seed against Golden State on Tuesday. However, a nine-point lead after the first quarter was not enough as the Warriors fought back and pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback.
Now, Phoenix not only needs some luck to get the top seed but it also allowed the Clippers to be in striking distance of the two-spot. Making things more difficult, the Suns have the hardest remaining schedule of the three teams.
Portland sits in a much tighter spot. They are racing with the Mavericks and Lakers for seeds five to seven. Adding and added speedbump for Portland is which teams stand between the Trail Blazers and the playoffs. Including their matchup last night with Utah, Portland’s final three games are against the Jazz, Suns and Nuggets, all of which are very talented teams with something on the line.
With the final weekend of the regular season ahead, both teams should play with playoff intensity. Let’s look further to see who has the edge.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland went through an ugly April rut in which they went 3-10. As the pressure built on them, thanks to a threat of the play-in games, they kicked it into high gear and can end as the five-seed if things fall their way.
As usual for the Trail Blazers, carrying them on this run has been their offense. In their past eight games before Wednesday, the offense is up to an Offensive Rating of 124.5, best in the league per NBA.com.
Trade deadline acquisition Norman Powell has been the boost this offense needed. As he has found his place alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, he has been able to contribute more. His scoring is up to 20.9 points per game, and his efficiency is also up to 47.1% from the floor and 40.0% from 3-point range.
While the offense does most of the heavy lifting, it seems Portland has already been bringing playoff intensity on defense. They are up to 12th in Defensive Rating in this eight-game stretch per NBA.com. For most playoff teams, slightly above average is nothing to write home about in terms of defense. However, on the year, Portland ranks 29th in Defensive Rating, so getting down to 12th is a massive upgrade.
With Portland playing some of its best basketball and Phoenix currently in a rough batch, things could be in Portland’s favor. The big challenge ahead of Portland is overcoming the fatigue of playing the second game of a back-to-back and the temptation that brings of playing lackadaisical defense.
In a tight race for the West’s top seed, the Suns have failed to step up their game down the stretch. While they have played four teams competing for at least a spot in the play-in tournament, 1-3 is simply not good enough.
Phoenix’s issues have come on the defensive side of the floor as they allowed an average of 127 points in the three losses. The defensive struggles are surprising given that Steph Curry was cold in the Golden State matchup, and Los Angeles was missing LeBron James. Against Portland, they will need the defensive tenacity that has guided them to the 10th ranked Defensive Rating.
While the defense lost its way, the offense has been able to improve its play. During May, the Suns have shot 50.0% from the field and 41.1% from 3 per NBA.com.
Leading the way for the Suns’ improved shooting are role players Jae Crowder and Cameron Payne. In May, these two are averaging a combined 29.0 points per game. Crowder’s points nearly all come from behind the arc as he averages five 3s per game.
Payne’s improvement has been a smaller jump, going from 7.9 points per game for the year up to 12.0 in May per NBA.com. However, his presence as a scoring option has opened opportunities for others like Crowder.
Against Portland’s poor defense, Phoenix should have its opportunity to continue thriving and building confidence for the playoffs.
Trail Blazers-Suns Pick
On the second night of a back-to-back, fatigue is always a question. Add in that the first game had playoff implications and came against defensive-minded Utah, and the impact of fatigue is even more likely. As a team that typically neglects defense, this game will be a test of Portland’s commitment to defense.
Phoenix’s defense faces a similar test as they need to show they can bring back their tough defense. Motivation could be an issue though if they feel moving up or down is unlikely given the scheduling situations.
Both teams having question marks defensively makes me hesitate backing either. If we turn to the total though, those defensive question marks could be an advantage. Add in that both teams have played offense at a high level recently, and the stars seem to have aligned.
Bet on a high-scoring game in Phoenix.
Pick: Over 228.5 up to 234.5