On Thursday, February 27, the Portland Trail Blazers will be on the road to take on the Indiana Pacers. The Blazers are currently on the outside looking into the playoff picture while the Pacers have been steady at the sixth seed of the Eastern Conference.
Five-time All-Star Damian Lillard did not travel to Indiana for the first of this short, three-game road trip that the Blazers are on. Lillard has been nursing a groin injury that has kept him sidelined for a couple of games including All-Star weekend.
The Pacers have been missing Victor Oladipo, but he is a game-time call for this home matchup. As it stands, the Pacers are favored in this one at -10, which seems like a large number.
A regressing Blazers team
Last season, the Blazers made it all the way to the conference finals on the backs of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. It feels strange remembering that was less than a year ago, and now the Blazers sit seven games below .500 for this season.
Lillard and McCollum have continued to be one of the best backcourt combos in the NBA, and even adding Carmelo Anthony into the mix has worked out better than anyone could have dreamed.
Something is just missing with this Trail Blazers team. With all of these positives, you would think that they would have a better overall record, but they have taken a step backward this season.
Maybe it is the loss of most of their big men, but something about this season has not been able to click yet. If they don’t figure it out soon they could find themselves missing the playoffs after their success last season.
Right track or wrong track for the Indiana Pacers?
Throughout the early stages of this season, the Indiana Pacers maintained a level of consistency and strong play from their team night-to-night.
Oladipo was nursing his quad injury, and players like Aaron Holiday, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and more stepped up in his absence. Since Oladipo’s return, the team has struggled to capture its identity again and string together success.
Things took a turn for the worse the other night when Lamb tore his ACL and meniscus in a game.
There is a lot for this team to discern and figure out with rotation, and if Oladipo returns in this game he should slide right back into the starting lineup. They could bump into the fifth seed, but it looks as if they are going to stay in the sixth slot until the end of the year.
Portland gets it done on the backs of CJ McCollum
McCollum has been able to step up big in the absence of Damian Lillard and finished their last game with 10 assists.
His scoring never leaves him, but his playmaking definitely takes a step up when Lillard is out. Having the ball in his hands more often has found success for Portland and I think they will be able get it done on the road in Indiana. Definitely, take advantage of Portland +10!
Make sure you are locking in your bets before Thursday night’s tip-off!