Nets vs. Trail Blazers Picks and Prediction: Will Brooklyn Be Embarrassed Again?

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Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets gets back up after falling on the court during their game against the Sacramento Kings. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP.

Off an embarrassing defensive performance, Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets look to bounce back on Thursday night when they visit Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Brooklyn Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers 

Thursday, November 17, 2022 – 10:00 PM EST at Moda Center

What You Should Know

Thursday might have the most unique NBA schedule I can remember. Not just because there are only 3 games (Thursdays are always slower), but because all 3 start at 10:00 PM EST or after. Trying to think of the last time there wasn’t a single game sometime between 07:00-08:00 PM EST.

The Nets and Blazers split the season series last year with each winning by 5 points at home. Kevin Durant played in both for Brooklyn and averaged 33.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists.

Kyrie Irving (more on him below) played in one and Ben Simmons of course none. Portland star Damian Lillard didn’t play in any, but in 18 career games against Brooklyn has scored at least 31 points 8 times, including a 60-point performance on Nov. 8, 2019. 

Portland leads the overall series 67-27 and is 38-9 at home. The Nets are 4-1 against the spread on the NBA picks in their past 5 there, though.  

Nets’ Defense in Shambles 

For the most part, the Nets have been playing better since suspending All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, but they were flat-out embarrassed in Sacramento on Tuesday (the Kings are a lot better) in a 153-121 loss. The points allowed were the most ever in a regulation game in the Nets' history. 

Brooklyn allowed 94 points per game and 38.8% shooting in Coach Jacque Vaughn’s first 6 games as a coach but has given up 134.5 points per game and 54.3% shooting in the last 2 games in losses to the Lakers and Kings. 

Kevin Durant had 27 points but sounded off after the loss: "Look at our starting lineup. Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton, and me. It’s not disrespect, but what are you expecting from that group? You expect us to win because I’m out there. So if you’re watching from that lens, you’re expecting us to play well because No. 7 is out there." 

Ben Simmons Continues to Struggle

Durant is referring to the fact that Irving is still suspended and won’t be back Thursday. Ben Simmons has been coming off the bench and really struggling, averaging career lows of 5.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists.

Compare that to his career averages of 15.6 points, 8 rebounds, and over 7 assists a game. He’s still largely afraid to shoot. According to The Athletic, there has been "frustration" surrounding Simmons’ availability; he has missed a total of 5 games and his level of play to start the season. 

Durant has scored at least 25 in all 15 games, a franchise record to start the season by far. I’d say the record of 25-point games to start a season is safe considering it’s 80 by Wilt Chamberlain in 1961-62. Brooklyn is 3-11 ATS in its past 14 after a loss. 

Blazers Surprising in West 

Portland (10-4) is way better than anyone expected after last season’s 27-55 disaster, although Damian Lillard missed a bunch of games and the team traded away CJ McCollum in that campaign. 

Lillard is right back in All-Star form averaging 27.9 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds. In Tuesday’s 117-110 home win over San Antonio, he had 22 points and 11 assists.

Lillard has recorded a points/assists double-double in consecutive games. He needs 280 points to pass Clyde Drexler as the leading scorer in franchise history so that obviously will take at least a few weeks. 

Jerami Grant, an offseason acquisition, had 29 points and has scored 93 points in the last 3 games, the highest-scoring three-game run of his NBA career. Anfernee Simons added 23 points. Center Jusuf Nurkic returned after missing 3 games injured and had 9 points and 5 rebounds in just 15 minutes.

Reserve forward Justise Winslow missed a second straight game with a non-COVID illness.  

“I’m happy to come out of that game with a W because I don’t think we played great but good enough to win,” Coach Chauncey Billups said. 

Nets vs. Trail Blazers: Game Prediction and Picks

One big difference this year from last is Portland’s defense as its rating of 109.9 ranks 7th in the league compared to 29th last year at 116.3.

In addition to Grant, 2 pieces acquired in last season’s trades, Josh Hart and Winslow have played crucial roles in the Blazers’ defense

The Blazers are 5-0 ATS in their past 5 playing on one day of rest.

Following the NBA odds, I do like Portland here as Brooklyn might be gassed at the end of a four-game trip, and you can only go Over the total seeing the Nets’ defense of late.  

Score Prediction: Trail Blazers 116 - 111 Nets  

NBA Pick: Over 219.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Over 219.5 (-110)
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NBA Pick: Trail Blazers -2 (-110) at BetOnline 

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Trail Blazers -2 (-110)
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