The Portland Trail Blazers head East on Thursday night for a showdown with the Indiana Pacers. Indiana sits just inside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, with a 34-24 record, putting them in 6th place. The Blazers are on the outside of the Westâ€™s playoff picture, looking in. Theyâ€™re 26-33, currently in the 9th spot.
We’ll take a closer look at this game in our betting preview.
The battle, which is set to be a good one, lost a bit of its flare this week. It looks like the Blazers will head into the matchup without Damian Lillard, who is day to day with a groin injury.
Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, who recently returned from injury, is also once again sidelined with a back injury. We will have to see how the teams fare without one of each of their biggest scorers.
CJ Leads the Way
In the absence of Damian Lillard, teammate C.J. McCollum will have to step up and showcase the skills that make him a star in the league. McCollum is averaging 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists on the season, all while shooting nearly 39% from deep.
Lillard shoots 10 threes per game, so CJ and company will have to find a way to make up for the range theyâ€™ll be missing. The answer is likely CJ.
Trevor Ariza will also be assisting with some of those threes. Ariza is shooting over 40% from range, which is an evergreen statement for his entire career. In the paint, the Blazers leave it on the shoulders of Hassan Whiteside, whoâ€™s putting up 15.9 points and 14.2 rebounds per game. Whiteside grabs 4 of those boards per game on the offensive end.
Sabonis Rising Up
Domantas Sabonis has turned into an absolute phenom since donning a Pacers jersey. Sabonis is shooting 54% from the field while putting up 18.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. Sabonisâ€™ 18.3 is second on the team to T.J. Warren, whoâ€™s putting up 18.5 points per game.
Warren has progressively improved over the last three seasons, becoming an asset for the Pacers.
The Pacers have had plenty of practice without Oladipo. On paper, the game lost some of its flare, but in real life, the Pacers have the advantage when it comes to injuries. Oladipo has only appeared in eight games this season; Dame has started 54 for the Blazers.
Playing Against the Spread
Statistically, Portland is one of the worst teams in the NBA against the spread this season. They have only beat the spread 23 times, only Detroit and Minnesota have fewer. Indiana, on the other hand, has been pretty good. Theyâ€™re 31-26-1, covering 54.4% of the time.
The Pacers are 20-10 at home this season. Theyâ€™re 15-14-1 at home against the spread this season. Portland is 10-20 on the road this season, 12-18 against the spread. We will see whoâ€™s numbers improve on Thursday night. The Pacers are favored by 10 points headed into tip-off.