It’s a matchup of All-Star point guards on Friday night as Damian Lillard brings his Portland Trail Blazers to Toronto for the lone time this season against Kyle Lowry and the Raptors.
Portland is going to be a playoff team again in the West barring an epic collapse, but the Blazers realistically should finish anywhere from third to sixth in the standings. Staying in the Top 4 is important for first-round home-court advantage, although that didn’t help last year when the Blazers were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans. Should this team flame out again in the postseason, there could be major changes. That might even include trading Lillard, who has two years left on his contract. Or perhaps backcourt mate C.J. McCollum is the one to go.
NBA Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Toronto has won the past three home meetings with the Blazers but rarely wins in Portland and didn’t on Dec. 14, 128-122. That may have been a bit of a letdown game for the Raptors as it followed a huge upset victory at Golden State and also was the team’s third road game in four nights. Lillard had 24 points, one of eight Blazers in double figures.
Portland’s bench outscored Toronto’s a whopping 58-26. Rare for the Raptors’ reserves to be dominated like that. Lowry missed the game with a thigh bruise. Kawhi Leonard had 28 points, and Danny Green 19 points and 12 rebounds. Toronto shot 55.1 percent overall and 58.1 percent from deep – rare a team loses in the NBA shooting that well.
The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland is in the midst of a season-long seven game road trip is 4-0 on it after a 97-92 upset win in Boston on Wednesday – the Blazers have now beaten very good teams in the Celtics, 76ers and Warriors (in Oakland) on a five-game winning streak. Lillard had 33 points against Boston and Mo Harkless 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Enes Kanter has been a terrific bench addition since being bought out by the Knicks and had eight points and seven rebounds on Wednesday, but the Turkey native will not travel to Toronto due to immigration issues. Another key reserve, Evan Turner, has missed the past three games with a knee injury and is unlikely for this one. Portland is a stellar 18-4 straight up against the East this season.
The Dinos might be in another letdown spot here as they come off a big home win over Boston on Tuesday, 118-95, in the last meeting between the teams before potentially in the playoffs. After sitting out Sunday’s loss vs. Orlando for rest, Leonard was back in the lineup and had 21 points and six rebounds. Pascal Siakam was the star with 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting and eight rebounds. He was a team-best plus-22. Lowry had just seven points but 11 assists. He was the only Raptor to play more than 30 minutes.
Marc Gasol returned to a reserve role and had five points, five rebounds and eight assists in 23 minutes. Toronto held Boston to just 38.4 per cent shooting and 6-for-30 from deep. The Raptors have failed to cover their past five after a win.