New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers: Preview and Prediction

Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis will have to log heavy minutes for the Pelicans to have any shot in the playoffs. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • 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

OFFENSE

pelicans
VS
trail blazers

107.7 Offense Rating 106.1
103.8 Points 108.4
44.3 Rebounds 45.3
26.8 Assists 19.5
48.3 Field-Goal Percentage 45.1
36.2 Three-Point Percentage 36.6
1.3 Plus/Minus 2.6

DEFENSE

pelicans
VS
trail blazers

105.6 Defense Rating 104.2
110.4 Points 103.0
45.5 Rebounds 42.9
45.4 Field-Goal Percentage 44.6
35.5 Three-Point Percentage 36.4
47.7 Points In Point 42.1

Head-to-Head Results

Date Location Score Winner
Oct. 24 Portland 103-93 Trail Blazers
Dec. 2 Portland 123-116 Pelicans
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

Pelicans Trail Blazers
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.

Team Trends

Pelicans Trail Blazers
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
Author Image
Ryan Murphy began his love affair with sports journalism at the age of nine when he wrote his first article about his little league baseball team. He has since authored his own column for Fox Sports and has created campaigns for the WWE, the NHL, and the NFL. Ryan's critically acclaimed stories have also been published in 20 books and have been featured on more than 170 radio stations and 40 newspapers across North America.