The losses are beginning to pile up for the Portland Trail Blazers, but they’ll have no time to harp on last night’s loss since they have a quick turnaround tonight when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Portland could not find the win column during their road trip, so they are still searching for their first win since November 3rd. With another below .500 team coming to town, we’ll preview the matchup before going over my play for the first half.
Cleveland’s West Coast road trip comes to an end tonight, and the best they can hope for is a 2-2 split across the four games. On Monday night, the Cavs went into Sacramento and played their worst defensive game of the season, allowing 132 points on 59% shooting. In fairness, the Cavs were missing one of their top defensive players in, Isaac Okoro, who will also be out for tonight’s game, but even when he has played, defense has been an issue for Cleveland.
Following their 132-120 loss on Monday, Cleveland is 17th in defensive rating (113.3) and average points allowed per game (113.9). One of the biggest reasons for their below-average numbers is their inability to defend the perimeter. Opponents are shooting 39.1% from three against the Cavs this season, ranking them 28th in that category.
Since Cleveland has been one of the better interior defensive teams, holding opponents to an average of 46 points in the paint per game, opposing offenses have been forced to get their offense from beyond the arc. Luckily for the Cavs, their opponent tonight ranks dead last in offensive rating (104.4) and three-point percentage (30.8%).
Portland’s lack of offense was on full display again last night in their 115-99 loss to the Utah Jazz. That loss marked the fourth time already this season they’ve scored under 100 points. Whether it’s from beyond the arc or inside the paint, the Trail Blazers have not been able to find any momentum on that end of the floor.
Not only are they the worst three-point shooting team in the league, but they are the worst shooting team in general, ranking 30th in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage. With the injury woes to go along with their shooting woes, it’s hard to imagine their offensive numbers improving throughout the season.
The point total for the first half is currently set at 113, and I’ll be taking the over for my play. Between these two teams this season, the 1H over is 14-6. A big reason for that is both teams rank in the bottom five in 1H NET rating. Portland’s defense this season has not been much better than their offense, allowing opponents to average 60 points per game in the first half while shooting 49.8% from the field.
Even without Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro, the Cavs still have a significant advantage on offense tonight. Cleveland is top ten in average points in the paint per game in the first half (26), while Portland is allowing the most 1H points in the paint per game (30.8). The Cavs offense is also coming into this matchup with a lot of momentum on that side of the floor, as they’ve scored 115 or more points in five straight games.
Portland might be lost on offense, but with how the Cavs' defense has played, they should still be able to find some production. Cleveland ranks 23rd in average points allowed and 26th in three-point percentage (39.8%) allowed in the first half. Overall, the Cavs are 24th in first-half defensive rating, so I still think Jerami Grant and Shaedon Sharpe can do enough to push this total over.
1H Over 113 (-110) on Caesars Sportsbook