Trail Blazers 2018-19 Season Win Total: Is a Trap Season in Store for Portland?
Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
Portland Trail Blazers
- The pick: Over 41.5
- Confidence: 4 out of 10
The case for the over: Over the past five seasons, Portland has finished with fewer than 42 wins only once, in 2016-17. Last season, the Blazers finished with the third-best record in the Western Conference, at 49 wins, and their expected win total was right at 49 as well. No chicanery there.
They have a top-15 player in the league in Damian Lillard, who has flirted with MVP contender status the past few years. CJ McCollum is a dynamite second option. Their young guys are better than advertised. They have continuity and consistency with the coaching staff under Terry Stotts, and some of the big contracts are expiring, which opens up the chance for an in-season addition.
Portland has hit the over in four of the past five seasons, again outside of that 2016-17 setback. But even that season shows a good reason to pick the over.
The Blazers were wallowing that season, floundering. Major changes seemed to be coming, when suddenly, they caught a soft spot in the schedule and burst off on a winning streak that helped them get back to .500. This seems to happen like clockwork.
The Blazers look like a “meh” team for three months, and we write them off and then they catch a bunch of teams that are injured or on back-to-backs or whatever, go on a sustained winning streak and ride that to the playoffs.
The case for the under: I smell a trap.
This number is absurd for a team that won 49 game last year. Don’t get me wrong, I can wax poetic to you about the importance of Ed Davis last year and how Jusuf Nurkic is actually a liability and how that defense last season was just waiting to be exposed in the playoffs.
But 41.5? In this economy?
The oddsmakers know Lillard is primed for another insanely good season. They know Nurkic might improve, and if he doesn’t, Zach Collins sure looks primed for a bigger role.
So, yeah, this smells. It reeks.
Whether it’s about a bigger drop-off from the personnel they lost, or, more concerning, the potential for a mid-season Lillard trade if they struggle off the bat, it’s clear that bookmakers have their doubts about something.
I completely understand if you think I’m being paranoid and alarmist, that’s kind of my bag. But this one scares the crap out of me. It’s like I’m a mouse and there’s just this gigantic block of cheese in the middle of the floor on a plate with a spotlight on it and a sign that says “ENJOY, MOUSE.” Can’t do it.