New Orleans Pelicans vs Portland Trail Blazers
NBA: 10:30 PM EST
April 14, 2018
The inaugural day of the 2018 NBA Playoffs will conclude at the Moda Center in Portland, OR, where the host Trailblazers will welcome in the New Orleans Pelicans in a matchup of teams separated by just one game during the regular season. Both teams will be anchored by a star player looking to take the leap into postseason success: Portland guard Damian Lillard (26.9 ppg) and New Orleans forward Anthony Davis (23.4 ppg/10.3 rpg).
Aside from the superstars, each team’s offense is also supplemented by several players that can put the ball in the basket. Lehigh alum CJ McCollum adds a healthy 21.4 points per game average to a Blazers backcourt that’s dangerous from anywhere on the court. Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins will not play (achilles) beside Davis in perhaps the most intimidating one-two frontcourt punch in the NBA.
However, with such a closely contested matchup, I expect Game 1 of the series to be played tightly between two teams that are desperate for postseason success. New Orleans plays at the fastest pace in the NBA, but Portland is in the bottom tier of tempo and is a top 10 defensive team. Playing their first playoff game in front of their home crowd, look for the Blazers to impose their style of play on the inexperienced Pelicans and give maximum effort on the defensive end of the floor. If the Trailblazers are able to emphasize their plan of taking possessions deep into the shot clock on both ends of the floor, this one could go comfortably under an inflated total.
Our Free Betting Pick: Under 217.5