Fresh off their win over the Lakers last night, the Trail Blazers will remain at home as they play host to the Washington Wizards. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting the point total in this one.
To say defense has not been a strong suit of the Trail Blazers recently is an understatement. Portland acquired Matisse Thybulle at the deadline, so it has yet to be determined how he affects them on that end of the floor, but he certainly has his work cut out for him. Over the past ten games, the Trail Blazers are 6-4, and in that span, they have the worst defensive efficiency rating in the league.
Portland’s NET rating over that ten-game stretch is -1, and the reason their defensive numbers have not skewed that rating is because, in the same span, Portland also has the best offensive efficiency rating in the league. Over their past five games, the Blazers have scored 121 or more points in four of them while also allowing 115 or more points to be scored in all five.
The defensive struggles will likely play a factor again tonight since the Wizards are ranked third in offensive efficiency over the past ten games. In their loss last night to the Warriors, the Wizards proved to have similar strengths and weaknesses to the Blazers, scoring 126 points while also allowing 135.
Scoring 126 points without Kyle Kuzma is an impressive feat for the Wizards and shows how high-powered their offense can be at times. When Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal are shooting it well, like they were last night, Washington’s offense can compete with the top teams in the league. The issue at the end of the day is those performances go to waste if they can’t get consistent stops on defense.
Losing a game while shooting 60% from the field is something that the Wizards and Blazers have done a lot this season and primarily why they have remained just below .500 all year.
The point total in this game is currently set at 235.5, and I’ll be taking the over as my play in this one. The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams, and when Portland is a home favorite this season, the over is 14-6-1. These teams rank 4th and 5th in field goal percentage over the past ten games, and with the way both defenses are playing, this could turn into a shootout.
Both sides have struggled with limiting ball movement recently, which will only make things easier for both offenses to get higher-quality looks. The Wizards allowed the Warriors to have 40 assists in their game last night, while Portland is last in the league over the past ten games in opponent assists per game. With both sides ranked in the top eight in three-point percentage in that same ten-game span, they could be able to step into a lot of uncontested looks from beyond the arc.
Damian Lillard and Kristaps Porzingis are both primed to take advantage of the lackluster defense tonight. Both players are averaging more PPG over their last ten games than their full-season average, as Lillard is up to 38.2 PPG in this recent stretch as opposed to his usual 31.2 PPG.