Trail Blazers vs. Suns Odds & Picks: Total Is Inflated (Monday, Feb. 22)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker
- The Suns are a sizable favorite over the Blazers in Monday night NBA action.
- Portland has survived without two of its best players, but does Phoenix have the defensive style to shut down the Blazers?
- Raheem Palmer breaks down the game and gives his pick below.
Trail Blazers vs. Suns Odds
|Trail Blazers Odds||+6.5|
|Moneyline||-255 / +210|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
The Portland Trailblazers kick off their three-game road trip against the Phoenix Suns in a Western Conference showdown which may have playoff ramifications down the line. If the postseason were to start today, these two teams would be slated to meet as the Suns hold the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a 19-10 record while the Blazers hold the fifth seed with 18-11 record.
Both these teams come into this game red-hot. Damian Lillard and the Blazers have won eight out of their last 10 games despite the absence of both CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Although the Blazers hit a speed bump on Saturday night as they saw their six-game winning streak snapped in 118-111 loss to the Washington Wizards, they hope to bounce back against the Suns who have won 11 of their last 13 games and come off a 128-97 drubbing of the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday Night.
Oddsmakers have installed the hometown Suns as 6.5 point favorites with a total of 229.
Let’s find out where the betting value lies.
Portland Trail Blazers
When the Blazers lost McCollum for four weeks to a left foot injury on Jan. 18 just days after losing Nurkic to a broken right wrist, many analysts thought their season was over. The Blazers held a 8-6 record but they surely couldn’t survive the loss of two key starters, right?
If there’s anyone who could completely make us eat our words it’s Damian Lillard, who is in the midst of another MVP-caliber season, averaging 30 points on 44.5% shooting along with 7.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds per game and 1.1 steals. He leads an offense that is fifth in Offensive Rating, scoring 117.7 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes according to Cleaning The Glass.
The Blazers get the majority of their points from behind the arc as they rank towards the bottom of the league in field goal percentage at the rim but are sixth in 3-point shooting (39.1%). It’s no coincidence that the Blazers are shooting the second highest percentage of 3-point field goal attempts with 43.2% of their shots coming from behind the arc. In today’s NBA, it’s certainly an optimal strategy as Lillard, Gary Trent, Anfernee Simons and Carmelo Anthony are all above average shooters and you don’t want to leave Robert Covington open from down town, either.
Unfortunately for the Blazers and any other jump shooting team, you often have nights where you simply aren’t making shots, like Saturday against the Wizards. Lillard in particular was just 10 of 30 from the field and had was held to just six points on 2-of-13 shooting in the first half. The Blazers as a whole shot just 35.9% from the field and were abysmal in the second and fourth quarters, scoring just 12 and 19 points.
In a game that was decided by just eight points, their offense just didn’t have it and when their offense doesn’t have it, they simply aren’t going to win as they’re 28th in Defensive Rating (116.6) in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning The Glass. The Blazers defense allows the fifth-highest eFG% (55.7%) in the league this season and is in the bottom 10 in EFG% in nearly every area of the floor except from three point range. Nonetheless, it’s clear this team will go as Damian Lillard and the offense can go.
The Phoenix Suns may not have the star power of the Lakers, Nets, Clippers or Bucks, nor have they played almost perfect basketball for two months straight like the Jazz, but they are quietly one of the best teams in the league. In many ways they may still be underrated even with 11 wins in their last 13.
Although they’re coming off two games against the Grizzlies and Pelicans in which they beat them by an average of 24.5 points, they’re not just defeating inferior competition. The Suns are 9-5 against teams at or above .500 with wins over the Jazz, 76ers, Bucks, Nuggets and Celtics. One of their few missteps of the past few weeks was blowing a 24-point lead to James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets but otherwise this team has proven that they can beat anyone.
Chris Paul passed Oscar Robertson for sixth all-time in assists this week and he’s added veteran leadership and top notch point guard play to a team with young stars in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton that went 8-0 in the NBA Bubble but narrowly missed the play-in game. When you factor in the solid wing play from Jae Crowder and third-year player Mikal Bridges who’s averaging 14 points per game and shooting 41% from behind the arc this is a dangerous roster.
Nonetheless it’s no surprise, the Suns are fifth in Net Rating (4.8) behind the Jazz, Bucks, Clippers and Lakers. They’re eighth in Offensive Rating (113.8) and sixth in Defensive Rating (109). One of the key stats that stand out is that Suns are ninth in 3-point shooting percentage (38.0%) but they also allow the sixth lowest 3-point shooting percentage on defense (35.5%), which is key against a Blazers team that generates most of their points from behind the arc.
Trail Blazers-Suns Pick
I think the Suns have the edge in this matchup and they should get the win but as we all know, the points spread is the great equalizer. My projections make the Suns a 6.35 point favorite, which is right along where the market lies for this game. With the Blazers coming off a disappointing loss against the Wizards, I’m really not seeing much value in fading them in this spot at the current number.
I think the value in this game lies in the total.
The Suns are 29th in pace, playing 97.50 possessions per game this season. The Blazers aren’t a particularly fast-paced team either as they’re 17th in pace playing at 99.75 possessions per game. With a slow paced game in order, we’d need high offensive outputs from both teams, but I’m not seeing that.
The Suns have the pieces to guard Damian Lillard and this Blazers offense thanks to their ability to limit 3-point attempts. The Blazers are also on the front end of a back-to-back so I’d imagine we could see a bit more rest for their starters than usual.
My projections actually make this game 226.5 and I have a feeling that this total is inflated based on the Suns playing fast-paced teams like the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Nets and Bucks over the past week. The Blazers have seen their games go under the total in two out of the last three games so I think there’s some inflation with them as well. I’ll play the under 230 here and would play this down to 229.
Pick: Under 230 (-105)