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Lillard-less Blazers in Tough at Home Against Zion, Surging Pelicans

CJ McCollum NBA Basketball Betting Preview New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers

Zion Williamson shoots for his seventh straight 20-point outing when the Pelicans visit Portland for a pivotal clash in the Western Conference. The Blazers sit 1.5 games ahead of New Orleans in the chase for the final playoff spot in the West but will be without injured superstar Damian Lillard.

New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers
  • Date/Time: February 21, 10:30 p.m.
  • Arena: Moda Center
  • TV Coverage: ESPN, Fox Sports New Orleans, NBC Sports Northwest, TSN
  • Opening Odds: Pelicans -3.5 | O/U 234.5
  • Pelicans vs Trail Blazers Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

New Orleans is favored in Portland for the first time since 2009, but that hasn’t slowed down action on the Pelicans. Although the Pels were briefly bet down to 1.5-point favorites after opening -3, the line had moved to -4.5 by Thursday night and could potentially climb higher.

New Orleans News & Notes

The Pelicans go into the second half of the season five games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the West, but there’s no shortage of optimism in the Big Easy about a potential playoff appearance. New Orleans has been an inspired team since Zion Williamson joined the lineup, winning six of its last nine games and riding a 19-7-1 ATS run in its last 27. Williamson is riding a hot streak of his own, cracking the 20-point plateau in each of his last six games — making him the younger-ever player to accomplish that feat.

The Pelicans have been winning with offense, going OVER the total in 18 of their last 23 games overall and in eight of their last 10 on the road. They’ve also been beating the teams they should be beating, going 10-1 ATS in their last 11 vs opponents with losing records.

If that’s not enough reason for Pelicans backers to smile, New Orleans is also expected to have Brandon Ingram back in the lineup Friday after the small forward missed the Pelicans’ past three games with a right ankle sprain. Ingram, who is averaging 24.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season, saw eight minutes of action in Sunday’s all-star game and is not listed on the injury report for Friday.

Portland News & Notes

Damian Lillard virtually carried the Trail Blazers back into playoff contention last month, and now his teammates need to return the favor. Portland will likely be without its superstar guard for at least the next four games as Lillard recovers from a groin injury suffered in the Blazers’ loss to Memphis last week. Lillard, who has averaged 37.9 points and 9.2 assists in his last dozen games, currently ranks fourth in NBA scoring at 29.5 points per game and also ranks sixth in the Association with 7.9 assists per contest.

Lillard’s absence may force the Blazers to slow things down a bit, something they haven’t done much of recently at the Moda Center. The OVER is 35-16-1 in Portland’s last 52 home games, and the Blazers are 21-7-1 to the OVER in their last 29 vs teams with losing records on the road — such as New Orleans.

Betting Pick: UNDER 235.5

Portland’s best chance at the upset is to slow down the pace and grind things out in the half-court.

Shark Bites
  • The Pelicans are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 games.
  • The OVER is 11-3 in the Trail Blazers’ last 14 games.
  • The Trail Blazers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games.