Portland at Atlanta -7 O/U 203.5
Atlanta is starting to heat up again winning and covering three straight which makes this a challenge for Portland. What makes it a difficult challenge is the fact that each of the Blazers' starting guards are hurt entering this contest. Damian Lillard (plantar fasciitis) and C.J. McCollum (ankle) seem likely to play despite the injuries but a definitive “go” has not been issued for either yet. Playing on back-to-back days isn’t helpful for either of Portland’s top scorers since their health issues only really heal with rest. McCollum’s fourth quarter ankle injury versus Miami yesterday left him visibly hobbled the rest of the game so having to come right back for 35-38 minutes here figures to be tough. The backcourt matchups in this game are not favorable to guys with foot and ankle problems as Atlanta's Jeff Teague is as quick as any point guard in the league and chasing sharp shooting Kyle Korver through screens all night is difficult too. Add in the youth and quickness of Atlanta backup point guard Dennis Schroeder and you can start to project a long night on the defensive end for Portland’s banged up guards. The Hawks who are averaging 113 ppg over their last three have shot extremely well hitting 52.4% from the floor and 39.7% from beyond the arc. Atlanta also continues to benefit from a nice scheduling stretch which has seen them have a day off in between each off their last six games while Portland tonight will be playing their fourth road game in six days. My power ratings show Atlanta to be -6.5 in this game without and situational advantages so the -7 they’re asked to lay in this game seems to provide some value. With their frontcourt reserves Tiago Splitter and Mike Scott now in the mix for the last five and three games respectively, Atlanta’s bench is significantly stronger. Too many negatives staring at the Blazers in this one so the play here will be to side with the significant positives that are pointing directly at the Hawks.