We have just 4 games on tap in the NBA on Thursday, which means we can’t necessarily be overly selective when it comes to selecting our betting action. We also have a number of high-profile injury situations, with LeBron James and Ben Simmons both out and Joel Embiid doubtful to play. One game that looks ripe for the picking is Blazers-Pacers, which will go down in Indianapolis.
The Blazers, of course, are still playing without Damian Lillard. Lillard injured his groin in the Blazers’ final game before the All-Star break, and he’s expected to miss a couple of more games. The timing isn’t great for a Portland team that is fighting for its life with regard to a playoff spot. The Blazers have lost 4 of their last 5 games overall to drop to just 26-33 on the season. That said, they’re still only 2.5 games behind a Grizzlies team dealing with its own injuries for the last postseason spot.
The Pacers’ playoff fate isn’t in any sort of peril. Indiana is sixth in the Eastern Conference, and they’re a comfortable 12.5 games ahead of the Wizards, who are in the hunt for the last playoff spot in the East. Indiana is 2 games behind Miami for the No. 4 spot, so they do still have something to fight for before the end of the campaign.
The Pacers are surprisingly sizable 9.5-point favorites at home tonight against the wounded Blazers in a game with a 218.5 over/under at BetOnline.
Blazers still without Damian Lillard, Zach Collins
Victor Oladipo listed as probable for Pacers
Blazers beat Pacers 139-129 in Portland last month
Indy’s Ragged Form
The Pacers are in a fine spot, but they haven’t been in the finest form. The Pacers are just 3-7 over their last 10 games, a stretch that includes 3 losses to the Raptors. Losing to Toronto isn’t shameful considering the defending champions are still among the best teams in the league, but the Pacers are not going to be taken seriously as title contenders if they can’t beat upper echelon teams on a regular basis.
Indiana got back on track with an easy 119-80 win over the hapless Hornets last time out, but tonight’s game will be a tougher test. Even without Lillard, the Blazers have a lot more offensive firepower than the dreadful Charlotte team the Pacers faced the other night.
The Pacers also got some dreadful news earlier this week when Jeremy Lamb suffered a brutal knee injury that will cost him the rest of the season.
On the bright side, the Pacers will get Victor Oladipo back. Oladipo has missed the past couple of games with a sore back, but the team says he’s expected to return tonight. Oladipo has been limited to just 8 games all year as he continues to rebound from the torn quad he suffered last season, and he has struggled since his return. The former All-Star is averaging 10.8 points per game while shooting just over 33 percent from the field thus far. Needless to say, the Pacers will need him to round back into form if they have any aspirations of making a deep playoff run.
With Oladipo battling health issues, Indiana has instead leaned on Domantas Sabonis to do much of the heavy-lifting. Sabonis, who was named to his first All-Star team this season, has been fantastic. He’s averaging 18.3 points along with 12.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game on the year. His passing is his most underrated attribute, as he has proven to be a very useful secondary playmaker next to Malcolm Brogdon.
McCollum’s Time to Shine
Whenever Lillard goes out, CJ McCollum gets his chance to show what he can do as the No. 1 option. McCollum hasn’t disappointed in that regard in games Lillard has missed this season, but the Blazers have gone just 1-4 in games Dame has missed so far in 2019-20.
Over the last 3 games without Lillard, McCollum is averaging 32 points thanks to red-hot shooting from long range. CJ has canned 14 of his 31 long balls since the All-Star break, but he needs more help. Portland has gone just 1-2 in those games, and the lone win came over a brutal Pistons team that isn’t even actively trying to win games down the stretch of the season.
Carmelo Anthony has been solid, but inconsistent. Hassan Whiteside has been putting up big numbers, but he’s still not a go-to offensive option. Terry Stotts almost has no choice but to run his starters out there for heavy minutes these days, which is something that could come back to haunt him if the Blazers do wind up squeaking their way into the playoffs.
Trail Blazers vs Pacers Pick
The Pacers are clearly the better of these two teams, but I haven’t seen enough from them lately to buy into the notion that they should be listed as such massive favorites here. 9.5 points is a pretty hefty spread by the NBA’s standards, and I do think the Blazers can keep this game relatively competitive for four quarters. I’m not confident enough in Portland to pick them to win the game outright, but betting on the Blazers to do so at +400 on the moneyline does offer all sorts of upside.
That said, I’ll take the safer approach and bet on Portland to simply cover the spread on Thursday night. They have enough offensive firepower even without Lillard to make this a decently close game. Indiana prefers the slug-it-out type of approach, which doesn’t lend itself to many blowouts.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.