The Portland Trail Blazers will march to the court with an extra dose of confidence. They are 2-0 against the New Orleans Pelicans this season and just collected an impressive come-from-behind victory a mere two days ago.
Catch this game tomorrow, Friday, at 10:00 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: Portland Trail Blazers (23-16, 12-7 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG – Damian Lillard
- SG – CJ McCollum
- SF – Derrick Jones
- PF – Robert Covington
- C – Enes Kanter
The Blazers are coming in as winners in five of their last seven games. The most recent was also earned in thrilling fashion as they erased a 17-point lead with just 5:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Damian Lillard erupted for 50 points in the recent win, to go along 10 assists on 13-for-20 shooting and a perfect 18-for-18 from the charity stripe. Overall, he’s averaging 30.5 points per game against the Pels. He should be primed for another big night tomorrow.
CJ McCollum (foot) will be on his second game back after almost two months of absence. He struggled in his return Wednesday, going just 3-for-11 from the floor for 10 points and four turnovers across 26 minutes. He deserves some slack, though.
As McCollum eases way back into rhythm, there’s no shortage of scoring support for Lillard. Carmelo Anthony, Gary Trent Jr., and Enes Kanter are all capable of providing help. All three have contributed multiple 20-point games just this month – Trent Jr. is actually posting 21.5 PPG in his last two.
Portland is scoring 119.7 points and draining 17 threes per game over its last seven games.
ROAD TEAM: New Orleans Pelicans (17-23, 5-13 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG – Lonzo Ball
- SG – Eric Bledsoe
- SF – Brandon Ingram
- PF – Zion Willamson
- C – Steven Adams
The young and talented Pelicans are continuing to struggle. After creeping up the playoff picture in February, they have proceeded to lose 11 of their next 17 games. As described above, yesterday’s loss was also tougher than usual as it is arguably the worst choke of the season.
Nevertheless, the high-scoring duo of Brandon Ingram (23.9 PPG) and Zion Williamson (25.6 PPG) will continue powering the Pels. They combined for 58 points in Wednesday’s defeat, and may strive to match that mark tomorrow. Williamson is actually posting 28.4 PPG on 65% shooting since February 11th.
Hopefully, though, New Orleans can get more from starting guard Eric Bledsoe, who’s been non-existent as of late. He’s scoring just 5.8 PPG on a woeful 28.1% shooting over his last five games. It’s the exact opposite of Lonzo Ball’s steady progression. Ball is putting up a career-best 14.2 PPG this season and dished out a career-high 17 assists during Wednesday’s match-up.
The Pels’ 115.9 PPG is currently fourth-highest in the league, but they’re basically cancelling it out by giving up 115.7 per game, which ranks just 27th overall.
Lillard’s confidence is always beaming and McCollum will catch fire soon enough, which could very well be tomorrow. With that, I expect the Blazers to stay ready with what the Pels have in-store, be in control, and also cover the -2.5 spread.
The Blazers and Pelicans have been scoring well lately, but since this is their second meeting within 48 hours, the defense could be more prepared. It won’t be low-scoring but it I doubt it can go over 241 again.
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