Moore’s Tuesday Betting Picks: The Blazers Are Overvalued Against Houston
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: CJ McCollum #3 and Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers hug
- The Blazers are finally healthy again with Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic back in the rotation in Orlando.
- The problem: Portland has actually performed very poorly in the bubble so far with Nurkic on the floor, which could be a problem against the Rockets.
- Read my betting breakdown for this game below, plus why I'm betting on the Rockets and the Blazers team total under.
Here is an angle for Tuesday’s Blazers vs. Rockets (9 p.m. ET, TNT) game based on matchups and trends:
Portland, with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back in the lineup, bested the Grizzlies and then came back from more than 20 down vs. Celtics to nearly steal a win.
The Rockets, meanwhile, went to overtime vs. the Mavericks and edged the Bucks in a back and forth affair.
As such, this line is far shorter than you’d think for a team well under .500 vs. a team competing for a top-three seed in the West.
I’ve been burned twice by Portland and I’m going back to the well a third time.
THE ANGLE: REVERSING THE BLAZE
Funny story with Nurkic, the Blazers have been outscored by 11.3 points per 100 possessions with Nurkic on the floor in these two games. For as good as he’s looked, the team itself isn’t considerably better. Portland is giving up a 127 defensive rating with the big man on the floor.
This bodes well for a matchup with the “6’7”’s-or-less Rockets.” In order to punish Houston, you have to force the switch into a favorable matchup. Then you have to score over him without committing an offensive foul.
Nurkic, it would seem, is perfect for this. Except last season prior to his injury, Nurkic shot 45% in the post. Nurkic can slip the pick vs. the switch and get to the rim; he’s an effective roll man. Except Damian Lillard struggles when two players apply perimeter pressure.
What’s carried the Blazers in these games has been Gary Trent Jr., who’s been lights out, phenomenal, in two games. He’s hit 11-of-16 from 3-point range. Terrific! Also, unsustainable.
If the Rockets don’t put two on-ball, then Lillard and McCollum will feast. But Portland’s defense simply isn’t good. It has given up 113.9 points per 100 possessions in the regular season and 124 in the bubble.
You’re not going to outscore Houston.
Laying the 4.5 is short enough given the gap between the two teams. I’m in on the Blazers under of 119.5 as well.
Notably, I’m going against both the money (88% of the spread money is on Portland compared to Houston) and season history (Portland went 2-0 vs. the Rockets this season). I don’t feel great about it, but fortune favors the bold.
THE PLAYS: Rockets -4.5 & Blazers team total under 119.5