Teams Squaring Off For Play-In Spots In Portland
The New Orleans Pelicans will try to take the next step to a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament when they face the host Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. New Orleans is in ninth place in the West standings after a come-from-behind win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Portland has dropped four in a row and is four games out of 10th place in the West with just seven games to play. This one will have some playoff intensity from both teams, so before you bet online, read our in-depth preview of the contest.
Pelicans Looking For Consistent Surge
The New Orleans Pelicans have been alternating wins and losses over the last five games, and their win on Sunday over the Los Angeles Lakers came after overcoming a 20-point halftime deficit. They’re hoping they can be more consistent in their efforts in the final days of the regular season. It certainly helps to have Brandon Ingram back, as he went for 26 points in the win after missing 10 straight games with a strained hamstring.
“I’ve been out for three weeks, and to be back and win in this fashion with all my brothers, it’s special,” Ingram said after Sunday’s victory. “It shows we believe in each other. When winning is the mentality, good things come to you, and great things came to us tonight.”
Getting Ingram back for the stretch run is a big boost for the Pelicans. He averages 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game and will draw some defensive attention away from guard CJ McCollum on the perimeter.
McCollum has been very good since joining the Pelicans in a midseason trade from the Trail Blazers and will be making his first appearance against his former team, where he spent the first eight-plus seasons of his NBA career. McCollum is averaging 25.9 points with New Orleans and shooting 38.4% from 3-point range, though it could be a very emotional contest for him.
Center Jonas Valanciunas will be a presence in the paint for New Orleans. The big man is averaging 18.1 points and a team-high 11.6 rebounds this season, and he could have a big game against the short-handed Trail Blazers.
Trail Blazers Going For Miracle Run
Even at their healthiest, the Portland Trail Blazers would be hard-pressed to get back into the postseason again considering their current spot in the standings. But throw in the fact that head coach Chauncey Billups can barely put together a healthy rotation, and Portland’s plight is even worse.
Injuries have Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic – among others – out for the season, and Portland had just eight healthy players for Monday’s overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team’s fourth straight setback.
Guard Ben McLemore led the way against the Thunder with 28 points off the bench, hitting eight 3-pointers in the contest. McLemore can be instant offense when he gets going, and he’s averaging 19.6 points over his last five contests.
Forward Drew Eubanks has also responded to increased playing time with all the injuries, averaging 17.2 points and 9.7 rebounds over the last 10 games. Eubanks has been extremely efficient offensively, shooting 67.5% from the floor over that span.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers Head-to-Head
The New Orleans Pelicans won the first meeting of the season between these two teams by 14 points, however, that was back in December when McCollum was suiting up for the Portland Trail Blazers. The teams will also square off next week to wrap up the season series in New Orleans.
Portland swept the three-game season series a year ago, but with so many personnel changes, it’s hard to read anything into that when looking at this game. The NBA lines are taking into account the number of injuries the Trail Blazers have, which is why the Pelicans are a huge favorite.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers Game Information
- Game: New Orleans Pelicans (32-43) at Portland Trail Blazers (27-48)
- Location: Moda Center
- Day/Time: Wednesday, March 30th, 10:00 p.m. ET
- Live stream: NBA Game Pass
New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers Betting Lines
New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers Prediction
This one could be over quickly, especially if the New Orleans Pelicans can play up to their potential at the start. McCollum will have an emotional night, but he also wants to help his new team get a needed victory in their quest for the postseason.
When doing your NBA betting, take New Orleans to win and cover on the road.