The Wizards have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the past two weeks, and tonight they’ll be looking for their seventh straight win as they play host to the Portland Trail Blazers. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-half bet in this one.
Washington won’t be the only team that enters tonight with positive momentum, as the Trail Blazers have won four of their last five games and, in that span, have the seventh-best NET rating in the league. An offensive outburst has helped the Blazers go from a three-game losing streak to the league's highest offensive efficiency rating over the past five games at 130.
In all four of their recent wins, Portland scored 122 or more points, and a big reason for that is Damian Lillard, averaging 38 points per game over the last ten games. When Lillard plays at this level, he also opens up the floor for the rest of the offense, averaging 8.4 assists per game over the last ten games.
Without the offense putting up an effective shooting percentage of 67.1% over the last five games, it’s safe to say their recent record could look a lot different. Portland has the second-worst defensive efficiency rating in that span, and four of their last five opponents have scored 123 or more points. Washington will have the most momentum out of any team they recently faced and pose a legitimate challenge on both ends of the floor.
No team in the NBA had a double-digit NET rating over the past five games except the Wizards, who had an 11.4 rating. Washington was third in offensive efficiency and 11th in defensive efficiency during that stretch, as they are getting massive contributions from both starters and bench players.
In their most recent win, the Wizards had seven players finish in double-figures, including a 25-point performance from Deni Avdija. You can tell when a team is clicking at the highest level when a role player averaging 8.7 PPG has averaged 13 a game over the past five games.
The Wizards are currently listed as -4.5 point favorites, but for my play in this one, I’ll be taking their first-half spread of -2. Over the last five games, the Wizards are 4-1 ATS in the first half, while the Blazers are 1-3-1 ATS. Despite their recent play, in their last five road games, Portland is 1-4 ATS in the first half.
Washington is the 12th-best scoring team in the league in the first quarter this season, and over the past five games, their NET rating in the first half is ranked 7th in the league. Meanwhile, Portland’s first-half NET rating of -7.8 is 22nd, and they also have the worst 1H defensive efficiency rating during that span. With the Wizards' offense clicking from top to bottom, I think they will pose the most significant challenge the Blazers have faced in a while, especially in the first half.
Portland has played some mediocre defensive teams recently, so the combination of their lackluster defense and being challenged on the offensive end may lead to a slow start in this one. Overall I think Washington can head into halftime with a lead while covering this smaller number.
Washington Wizards 1H (-2)