Portland Trailblazers at Dallas Mavericks (Total: 198.5)
Those of you wagering along with us last night had a stress-free and early evening, as the Lakers played exactly to the prediction; dominant and aggressive, dispatching the Pistons with such ease that Kobe, Pau, Peace and Dwight never took the warm-ups off after the end of the third quarter. I am not sure a home win over the Pistons qualifies as “significant” but it should help to get the panicked fanbase off their back for a few games and let this Laker chemistry experiment begin to take shape.
Meanwhile in the rest of the NBA, there is a full slate of games tonight, including an odd back end of a consecutive night home-and-home with the 76’ers and the Knicks. New York beat them handily yesterday in the Garden, now the Sixers will try to return the favor in their building. But the game that jumps off the radar to me is the Portland at Dallas game, so let’s dig into a break down and try to improve on our 5-0-1 ATS featured pick record this NBA season…
Portland rookie Damian Lillard has been simply sensational in the early season. The rookie has tabbed at least 20 points and 7 assists in each of his first three games, becoming only the second player in NBA history to do so (joining Oscar Robertson). I don’t care WHAT obscure stat someone digs up, if the only other person to do it is either Oscar or Wilt, consider me impressed. It will be an interesting matchup tonight with Lillard and Darren Collison, who appears to be adjusting and fitting in very well with the Mavericks.
Dallas is still without Dirk Nowitski for several months, but has raced out to a 3-0 record, including wins over the Lakers and Knicks. Despite being heavy favorites at home, I think this will be their toughest game of the year. Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge has been dominant this season, and without Dirk (not that he’s an A+ defender) they will rely on Chris Kaman to slow him down. Kaman won’t be able to follow him out to 18-20 feet with any effectiveness. Expect Aldridge to have a big game tonight.
The other hidden factor for the Blazers tonight is the unheralded defense of swingman Wesley Matthews. He has already held the scintillating James Harden to just 8 of 24 shooting, and will tonight try to limit OJ Mayo, who has taken the early season scoring burden from the injured Nowitski. The Mavericks made 16 3-pointers in their 95-85 win over New York. I don’t see them shooting at the same blistering pace tonight.
I think five is way too much to lay on Dallas, and would even be inclined to bet Portland straight-up on the road. Either way you choose to go, take Portland tonight in Big D.
Free Pick: Portland Trailblazers +4.5