Before the LA Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers series began, many expected the Clippers to win fairly easily, including us. The Clippers did, after all, begin the season with a revamped bench and championship expectations. Unfortunately for LA, those expectations have gone up in smoke amid injuries to Chris Paul (fractured thumb) and Blake Griffin (re-aggravated quad).
Portland, a team that most expected to miss the postseason, now has a chance to close out the series at the Moda Center tomorrow night. Given that Portland is playing in front of their home crowd against a team without its best two players, it certainly seems like they could be moving on to face the Golden State Warriors.
But then again, the NBA is full of surprises, including the fact that the Blazers are in this spot in the first place. So can LA surprise everyone and pull off the upset? Can they at least play well enough to beat the lofty -10 spread that Portland is being given? Find out below as we analyze Game 6 between the Clippers and Blazers.
GTBets.eu Line for Game 6 (Apr 29 at TBD time)
No. 4 LA Clippers (-110)
No. 5 Portland -10 (-110)
Portland leads series 3-2
Why the LA Clippers will win
Paul won’t be back for this series while Griffin is out for the remainder of the postseason. Nevertheless, the cupboard isn’t totally bare for a Clippers team that decidedly won the first two games by an average of 20.5 points.
JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Green and Austin Rivers can all score, and DeAndre Jordan is still the same elite defender he’s always been, proving this with 3 blocks last game. However, this team needs to knock down open shots, especially Jamal Crawford, who was just 6-for-23 in Game 5.
The Clippers also have a deep bench that can provide productive minutes for stretches, including Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson, Pablo Prigioni and Paul Pierce (started Game 5). This may not exactly be an equal match for the San Antonio Spurs or Warriors’ benches, but it’s good enough to spell the starters when they need it.
As LA showed last game, they can still play defense, forcing Damian Lillard into a subpar 7-for-20 shooting night. If they can string together some offense as well, then they could pull off the upset and send this series back to LA for the final game.
Why the Portland Trail Blazers will win
If ever there were a team positioned to close out a playoff series, it’s the Blazers. Not only are they fielding a healthy team, but they are playing against one that is missing two perennial All-Stars. It doesn’t hurt that they’re playing at home, where they’re 30-13 (including playoffs).
Beyond the good fortune, Portland features one of the league’s top backcourts in Lillard and CJ McCollum. While these two are streaky, they’re the unquestioned offensive leaders of the Blazers, as evidenced by the 49 points they combined for last game.
“They are the second-best two guard combination, because the have been consistent all year, they’re really stepping up in the playoffs. And the one thing we’ve been talking about,” said TNT analyst Charles Barkley. “Your stars have to play well in the playoffs.”
Beyond Lillard and McCollum, Portland has plenty of role players who can step up big like Mason Plumlee (10 points, 15 rebounds) and Maurice Harkless (19 points, 10 rebounds) did last time out. In Game 4, it was Al-Farouq Aminu stepping up with a 30-point night.
Portland has more capable players than LA, and they should be able to use this advantage to win Game 6.
Prediction for Clippers vs Blazers Betting Game 6
Despite the injuries. LA certainly isn’t lacking in desire and defense. Coach Doc Rivers even said that he was forced to call a couple timeouts because his team was playing so emotionally and exhausting themselves. Unfortunately, desire may not be enough because the unit they’ll be fielding on Friday night wouldn’t even make the playoffs, let alone beat a talented Blazers team. We expect the Clippers’ effort to keep things close, but the Lillard/McCollum combo should keep this game out of LA’s reach.
Score Prediction: Portland 101 – Clippers 90
Betting Advice: Portland has a large -10 gap to cover, but the combination of their home crowd and a healthy-vs-non-healthy matchup justifies betting on them to cover this huge spread.