Spurs vs. Trail Blazers NBA Odds & Picks: Back Portland as Better of Teams on Back-to-Back (Saturday, May 8)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers, Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs.
- Portland picked up a huge win Friday night by defeating the Lakers and moving into sixth place in the Western Conference.
- San Antonio left Friday with a big win of their own, defeating Sacramento to maintain possession of the final playoff berth in the West.
- Brandon Anderson is expecting a big night from deep for the Trail Blazers.
Spurs vs. Trail Blazers Odds
|Trail Blazers Odds||-4.5|
|Moneyline||+155 / -185|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Saturday and via PointsBet.|
The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers both got big wins Friday night against teams in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, but they’re both back at it again less than 24 hours later in another huge game.
The Blazers led most of the way against the Los Angeles Lakers and closed them out late, taking the season tiebreaker and effectively a 1.5-game lead over the Lakers for the No. 6 seed. The Blazers control their destiny now, but they need to keep winning so they don’t cede ground right back to LA.
The Spurs got a double dose of good news on Friday. They went on the road and got the win in Sacramento, one of the teams the Spurs are trying to hold off for that final play-in spot in the West. They also got sort of good news when New Orleans lost and also announced Zion Williamson is out indefinitely. Suddenly the reeling Spurs are back on track and in good shape for a play-in game.
Does San Antonio have another road win in them on a back-to-back?
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs improved to 32-34 with their win over the Kings, and it was a win the team needed badly. San Antonio had lost five straight before Friday’s win, and the Spurs are still an ugly 10-20 overall since March 20. As fun as this play-in race is shaping up to be, it’s fair to say that few fans outside of Texas would’ve missed seeing this Spurs team in the play-in games.
DeMar DeRozan is having a terrific season for San Antonio, but Derrick White was probably the second-best player on this team, and he’s likely done for the season. After that, it’s a bunch of quality role players like Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl who star on defense but haven’t added much on offense.
And that’s sort of the Spurs in a nutshell. They’re really only as high as they are in the standings because Gregg Popovich is a wizard who turns straw into gold year after year. Remember, even last year’s decrepit Spurs nearly snuck into the play-in, and that’s right where this team is this season.
Pop knows how to coach up the defense and get his team to do the little things, like eliminate silly turnovers and bad fouls. Just those things are enough to keep this team around .500, but it’s not enough against great teams.
The Spurs’ offense ranks in the bottom 10 in the NBA, and it’s not particularly modern. San Antonio ranks dead last in the NBA in 3-point attempts; they take more 2-pointers than any team but are tied for 25th in 2-point percentage, barely above 50% per NBA Advanced Stats.
The Spurs also rank near the bottom of the league in offensive rebounding. This team just doesn’t score well, and they don’t make the game easier on themselves either.
The defense is more above average than good. Like any Pop team, they don’t foul much, but the defensive shot profile is mostly fine and they’re not a great defensive rebounding team.
Think of the Spurs as a litmus test for the opponent. If the opposing team shows up and plays well, the Spurs probably lose. If the opponent has an off night or makes too many mental mistakes, the Spurs can take advantage.
Portland Trail Blazers
It was easy to write off the Blazers as they teetered on the edge of the play-in race, but Portland is now 38-29 on the season. The Blazers had lost 10 of 12 games and looked ready for the season to be over, but they’ve righted the ship over the past couple of weeks. Since that ugly stretch, they’ve won six of seven games and look like themselves again, and all of those wins had been by double digits until the win over the Lakers Friday night.
Damian Lillard has looked like healthy and resembles a strong MVP candidate again these past couple weeks. He had 38 points against the Lakers and dominated every facet of the game. CJ McCollum and Norman Powell have been more hot and cold, with McCollum in particular a bit quieter in this recent stretch.
Still, the strength of this team remains its offense. The Blazers love to bomb from deep. They rank second in the NBA in 3-point attempts and make them at an excellent clip.
They’re also the only team in the NBA that turns the ball over less than the Spurs, negating one of San Antonio’s greatest strengths, and they don’t rely much on free throws either, negating another Pop advantage. Unlike the Spurs, the Blazers do hit the offensive glass, so that should be a distinct advantage for Portland, giving them some easy buckets.
The Blazers aren’t much good on defense, but what else is new? Portland has an especially poor 2-point defense, so that could leave the door open for the Spurs to score, but remember — San Antonio loves to shoot 2s but it’s not very good at it anyway.
Spurs-Trail Blazers Pick
It may feel over simplistic, but at the end of the day, it really feels like this comes down to that new basketball math: 3s are greater than 2s.
The Blazers will bomb 3s all game while the Spurs are stuck taking 2s, and with some of the other small edges in Portland’s favor too, this feels like the Blazers’ game to lose. The way to beat Portland is by hammering its poor defense, and the Spurs don’t have the weapons to win that way.
A couple weeks ago, both of these teams looked down and out. The Spurs still feel like they’re in that range, but the Blazers are back on track. I think they easily and am happy to lay the -4.5 and take the favorite.
Pick: Blazers -4.5
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