With the first two games of the season out of the way, the NBA schedule opens up a bit tonight with 12 games slated to be played. The latest of all those games is set to tip off at 10:30 PM EST, and it will be the Portland Trail Blazers' first game post the Damian Lillard era, as they are set to play the Clippers in LA. After previewing the game, I’ll go over why a point total bet is one of my favorite NBA picks of the day.
If you haven’t kept up with the NBA offseason and were curious if the Clippers made any significant roster changes during that time due to lack of success, the short answer is no. Unless LA pulls off a James Harden trade with the Sixers, it will be essentially the same team that lost in the first round of the playoffs last season.
The focal points of the team remain the same with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, and they are surrounded by a familiar cast of role players. After playing in 21 games at the end of last season with the team, Russell Westbrook remains on the roster, along with guys like Terrance Mann, Norman Powell, and Ivica Zubac.
Give or take a few role players, this is looking like the same team that finished last year’s regular season with a NET rating of (.5), which ranked 17th in the league. On a positive note, the Clippers will enter the season healthy, as Kawhi Leonard is said to be 100% coming off his knee injuries.
In what could be one of their final chances to make a title run, the Clippers will start the season with a new-look Trail Blazers team. The Damian Lillard days are over, which means it’s time to start the Scoot Henderson experience in Portland. Selected with the third overall pick in the most recent draft, Henderson will be surrounded by a mix of young players and veterans that the team acquired in the Lillard trade.
We’ll find out tonight what the starting lineup will look like for Portland, but head coach Chauncey Billups certainly has a lot of options. Down low, the Trail Blazers have a new duo of Deandre Ayton and Robert Williams. At the same time, their guard rotation, aside from Henderson, can feature Malcolm Brogdon, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe.
The point total for this game is currently set at 228, and I’ll be taking the under for my play at (-112). The under was 28-15 when the Clippers played at home last season, and even with Leonard and George healthy, I still think they run into the same issue of not having scoring depth past their starters. This same Clippers team put up an offensive rating that was 17th in the league last season, and even with their stars back, I don’t see this number improving that much.
Portland finished last year ranked right behind the Clippers in offensive rating at 18th, and while they could be an exciting offensive team this year, it could take some time to gel together and for them to get rotations down. Since Henderson is now running the show, it’s yet to be determined whether Portland plays faster this year, but if they don’t, this is a team that was 17th in pace in 2022, taking on a Clippers team that was 21st in pace.
Defensively, Portland was at the bottom of the league in defensive rating last year, coming in at 28th, but I expect at least a slight improvement from them when healthy. Of course, they’ll take their lumps on that side of the ball, but on opening night, with everyone healthy, I think they’ll compete a bit more.
Under 228 (-112) *Would play to 227