- The Pelicans and Trail Blazers split their regular season series. Who will come out on top when it matters most?
- Will Damian Lillard deliver another signature playoff performance?
- Can Jusuf Nurkic slow down Anthony Davis?
The Pelicans (48-34, 24-17 away) and Trail Blazers (49-33, 28-13 home) kick off their best of seven first round series on Saturday at the Moda Center. It’s the fifth straight playoff appearance for Portland, who have twice reached the Western Conference Semifinals during that stretch, and the first in three years for New Orleans.
NOLA big man Anthony Davis will be looking to prove that his phenomenal season wasn’t a fluke, while Damian Lillard will be trying to cement his legacy as one of the league’s top playoff performers. Big Game Dame has averaged 24.6 points in 31 postseason games and hit one of the most memorable game winners in NBA history when he buried the Rockets with a buzzer-beating three in 2014.
Ryan Murphy 2017-18 Straight Up Record: 391-155 (71.6-percent)
New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers Team Stats
|47.7||Points In Point||42.1|
|Oct. 24||Portland||103-93||Trail Blazers|
|Jan. 12||New Orleans||119-113||Pelicans|
|Mar. 27||New Orleans||107-103||Trail Blazers|
The Pelicans and Trail Blazers split their four-game series during the regular season, but it’s worth noting that DeMarcus Cousins played a crucial role in both of New Orleans’ victories. The four-time All-Star had 38 points in 34 minutes on December 2nd, and chipped in 24 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks in their win on January 12th.
Cousins will be absent on Saturday, leaving the onus on Davis to have a monster game of his own.
Notable Injuries and Absences
|DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) – OUT||Maurice Harkless (knee) – OUT|
Straight Up Advice: Trail Blazers (110-107)
Portland’s biggest shortcoming for many years was its indifferent defense. The Blazers lacked a bona fide shot blocker to keep opposing players out of the paint, and Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum simply couldn’t be bothered to chase guards around the perimeter. That finally changed in 2017-18, and the results have been astounding.
Portland ranked in the top ten in defensive rating, defensive rebounding, blocks, and second chance points this season, and were third in points in the paint.
Portland ranked in the top ten in defensive rating, defensive rebounding, blocks, and second chance points this season, and were third in points in the paint. That last stat is especially important as Anthony Davis lives in the lane.
You can never truly stop a player like Davis, of course, but Jusuf Nurkic and Ed Davis have the size and strength to slow him down and make him work for every basket he gets. Their ability to badger the Brow will lead to victory on Saturday night and will ultimately stamp Portland’s ticket for a second round showdown with either the Warriors or Spurs.
|New Orleans is 24-17 SU on the road||Portland is 28-13 SU at home|
|New Orleans is 6-4 SU in its last ten games||Portland is 5-5 SU in its last ten games|
|New Orleans is 14-23 SU as an underdog||Portland is 37-15 SU as a favorite|
|New Orleans is 27-25 SU in conference games||Portland is 31-21 in conference games|
|New Orleans is 45-36-1 ATS this season (55.6-percent)||Portland is 45-32-5 ATS this season (58.4-percent)|
|New Orleans is 26-15 ATS on the road||Portland is 23-15-3 ATS at home|
Additional SU Picks (April 14)
Pelicans vs Trail Blazers is just one of four playoff games scheduled for Saturday. Here are our other three straight up picks.
|Match Up||SU Pick|
|Spurs vs Warriors||Warriors|
|Wizards vs Raptors||Raptors|
|Heat vs 76ers||76ers|