Trail Blazers vs. Pelicans NBA Betting Odds and Picks: Damian Lillard, Portland Will Cover in New Orleans
Via Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers celebrates as he points to his wrist after scoring a three-pot basket in the closing seconds of the game against Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena on October 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
- The New Orleans Pelicans are home favorites on Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
- Joe Dellera has found value on the spread in a game that may have playoff seeding implications down the line in the Western Conference.
- Check out his pick and analysis below.
Trail Blazers vs. Pelicans Odds
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The Portland Trail Blazers head to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans in what may be an important game for playoff seeding later in the season. Can Damian Lillard lead the Blazers to victory against Zion Williamson and the Pelicans?
Let's break it down.
Will the Trail Blazers Hit Enough 3s?
The Blazers are on the second game of a road back-to-back after taking care of business against the Hornets on Wednesday night. In what was expected to be a Blazers' victory, they elected to rest Jusuf Nurkic (adductor), Jerami Grant (ankle) and Keon Johnson (hip) for that contest.
I am of the mind that this was strategic to at least have Nurkic and Grant for one game in this back-to-back set, and the matchup against the Pelicans is more important for Western Conference seeding.
Additionally, both Lillard and Anfernee Simons played on Wednesday, and I'd expect both to suit up for tonight's game, considering they each played in both games of the Blazers' last back-to-back set.
The Blazers have had an interesting road this season, and despite their 8-3 record, their Adjusted Net Rating is just +1.8. In other words, they have outperformed their expectations this season, but that seems to be a penchant of Lillard-led teams – they just find ways to win.
The big edge in this matchup for the Blazers is not their 3-point volume, rather it is their elite efficiency from long range. As a team, the Blazers are shooting 39.7% from 3, the fourth-best mark in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. Even though the Pelicans limit their opponents to just a 33.4% shooting mark from 3-point range, they give up those looks at a high rate, and with Simons and Lillard, the Blazers are poised to take advantage of those open looks.
Pelicans Look to Pound the Paint
The Pelicans are also coming off of a win against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, and it was a well-rounded performance from the entire team.
One of the Pelicans' greatest strengths is their depth, and they have numerous players who can step up and fill in admirably off the bench. This is important to consider with the team coming off a back-to-back – it may impact their rotations in this game since Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Herb Jones have all recently recovered from injuries.
The Pelicans live and die in the paint as their entire offense is centered around a relentless attack at the rim. The Pelicans take 39.5% of their shots at the rim and then 23.4% from short midrange, which is by far the highest ratio in the NBA.
Their efficiency at the rim is not great, shooting just 62.5% at the rim, but their 44.5% percentage from short mid-range helps to even that out. This style of offense provides a high floor, and the Pelicans as a result have the fourth-best Adjusted Offensive Rating in the league.
The wrinkle in this matchup is that the Blazers allow more rim opportunities while limiting their opponents from short midrange. But then on those attempts, the Blazers are among the top 10 at defending each of those shot locations, per Cleaning the Glass.
Additionally, the Blazers will primarily play drop coverage with Nurkic and Lillard – unless the Pelicans decide to lean on their 3-point shooting in this matchup, that style of defense could prove effective with Nurkic manning the paint for Portland.
Trail Blazers-Pelicans Pick
Both of these teams are traveling overnight to New Orleans, so even though the Pelicans may be able to sleep in their own beds tonight, there is not a significant rest or travel advantage in this spot.
Both of these teams' offensive strengths directly oppose their opponents' defensive strengths, so it will create an interesting matchup. I favor the Blazers in this spot knowing their eFG% and allowed eFG% is better than both of the Pelicans' marks. The Blazers have more variance opportunities on their side.
I'll grab the points and back the Blazers who are getting more than two possessions.
Pick: Blazers +7