Two hot-starting NBA teams hit the hard court tonight as the Portland Trail Blazers (7-2, 6-0 home) seek to defend their flawless home record against Dwight Howard and the visiting Orlando Magic (6-3, 2-2 away) in a fantastic clash for NBA basketball followers and online sports betting fans alike.
Despite losing one of the franchises’ top scorers before the season as point guard Brandon Roy succumbed to retirement after struggling through ongoing knee injuries, Portland has continued its impressive ability to fight through key injuries and stay amongst the top ranks of the NBA. Essential to that cause has been the outstanding play and leadership of top scorer LaMarcus Aldrige, who has provided the Trail Blazers with 22.1 points per game and also chips in 7.7 rebounds per contest as well. Also a huge factor for Portland has been the presence of Gerald Wallace, who has put up huge performances in critical games this year, and is averaging a solid 15.6 points and 6.3 boards per contest thus far. As the Trail Blazers have won 4 of their last 6, it’s noteworthy that in the two losses suffered to Phoenix and the Los Angeles Clippers, Gerald Wallace’s presence was completely lacking (likely due to fatigue from the grueling run of 4 games in 6 days), as he shot 0-11 from the floor with just 1 point between the two losses despite playing 30 and 23 minutes vs. the Suns and Clippers respectively. Playing on back-to-back nights, it will be critical for the Trail Blazers to get a good effort from Wallace especially, as when he’s not contributing to the bottom line, Portland loses ball games.
However, with six Portland players in double figures on the season, the Trail Blazers are deep enough to contend with Orlando tonight on home court, even if the Magic have had the luxury of having 2 days’ off prior to tonight’s showdown. Relying on a mix of shooters to help them towards posting 99.7 points per game (good for 6th in the NBA), and great inside presence in the paint, equating to 43.2 rebounds/game (10th), Portland will look first and foremost to winning the battle of the boards, especially with the NBA’s second-best rebounder coming to town. Stopping Dwight Howard hasn’t always been essential for a Portland win, as Howard put up 39 points and 15 boards in his last visiting (a 97-83 drubbing), but with the Magic getting better contributions these days from the likes of starters Ryan Anderson (18 points, 7.3 rebounds/game) and Jason Richardson (11.1 points, 3.1 boards), as well as Glen Davis (8.4 points, 5 boards) off the bench, Portland has to be aware that Orlando isn’t nearly as hinged on Howard as they were last year, and will have to do a good job shoring up their position under the rim tonight. While Dwight Howard is certainly a key factor in scoring and rebounding, it may be even more important for the Blazers to shut down his supporting cast, and force the Magic to rely on Howard to provide the bulk of the scoring.
For Orlando, their defense has been one of the elite squads in the NBA for years, and it will have to be on point in tonight’s game against a solid shooting and rebounding team in the Portland Trail Blazers. Allowing just 90.3 points/game (5th in the league) is good in and of itself, but in tonight’s contest, more focus has to be placed on the battle of the boards, as Portland is good at picking up defensive rebounds (32 per game, 9th in the NBA) and is a good shot blocking team down in the paint (averaging 5.6 blocks per game). The Magic get plenty of help down low with Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson combining for over 20 boards a game, but after that only Glen Davis contributes more than 3.2 rebounds, meaning someone will need to step up tonight to help win on the glass against a good Portland home side. As Portland is incredibly oppressive around the perimeter, ranking 1st in the league at holding the opposition to just %23.7 shooting from three-point land, the Magic really have to be on their game to grab as many loose balls in the paint, and get easier shots inside. That is very important for Ryan Anderson, who puts up on average of 8.1 3 pointers per game with 39.7 percent shooting) from beyond the arc. The 6’10″ power forward will have to put his abilities to better use getting closer looks, as the Magic can’t contend with Portland by forcing shots up in the face of smothering perimeter pressure.
Betting Lines for Orlando vs. Portland at the Sportsbetting Sportsbook
Undefeated at home this year, the Portland Trail Blazers get a slight favorite on the betting lines at the Sportsbetting Sportsbook, one of the top reviewed online sportsbooks I’m featuring for NBA wagers on Wednesday. With -150 odds on the money line, the Trail Blazers might actually be a tough pick to take straight up, especially playing back-to-back games and 4 games in 6 nights. With Orlando likely to be better rested coming in to this road battle, the +130 on the money line is awfully tempting, especially with the Magic’s confidence boosted after Sunday’s win at Sacramento in which Dwight Howard’s foul trouble forced the rest of the line-up to step up towards a win. With Howard coming off a huge game in Portland just over a year ago, and likely boosting his performance against a top competitor in the Trail Blazers, the Magic could be a great bet as an underdog, or the safer bet taking Orlando to get within the +3 points allotted against the spread at Sportsbetting Sportsbook. With a very defensive minded approach to the game for both teams weighing on the over/under (185.5 points), this could still be a good opportunity to take advantage of the possibility of a sluggish start for Portland contributing to the game staying under the total points, but as Portland has put up big numbers against top competitors, taking the Blazers for a win might also suit taking the over bet on total points, as they’re also putting up 105 points on average in victories this year.
Our Pick to Win:
While Portland is the odds-on favorite to win, Orlando is a sexy pick as an underdog coming into tonight’s game, as they’re better rested and confident coming off a scrappy win without much contribution from Dwight Howard. That said, they face a Portland team that has won 6 in a row on home court this year, and has won 16 of their last 17 games played at the Rose Garden. That’s a pretty tough set of stats to bet against, regardless of the opposition. While there is a concern that Portland could suffer if one or a few of their leading scorers has an off night after playing yesterday, I still like the depth of Portland and their improved defense this year to pull them through for a 7th straight victory at home. Portland just squeaks by with a win tonight, beating the Magic by a score of 98-95.