Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Picks & Prediction March 1: Portland Has Too Much Offense for Struggling New Orleans

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Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots against the Chicago Bulls on February 04, 2023. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

NBA Pick: Trail Blazers -2.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Trail Blazers -2.5 (-110)
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Picks Summary:

  • Trail Blazers -2.5 (-110)
  • Under 232 (-110)

Top Sportsbooks have released their NBA odds for today’s game between Portland and New Orleans.

Both teams are struggling to stay close to .500, although the Pelicans in particular are struggling more strongly because they cannot win a game right now. They’ll try to end a four-game losing streak when they play Portland tonight. For reasons that I will explain, you should play both spread and total for tonight’s game.

Out of state? No problem. Check out the best US betting sites available in order to make secure wagers in your own home state.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Wednesday, March 1, 2023 – 10:00 PM EST at Moda Center

New Orleans’ Struggles 

The Pelicans are struggling just to win a game.

They’re suffering a four-game SU losing streak, which is a worrisome trend to consider for tonight’s game because it is statistically most probable that the winner of this contest will also cover the spread. New Orleans is also suffering a four-game ATS losing streak. The Pelicans were in fact favored for two of those games.

Their struggles are apparently difficult for the oddsmakers to appreciate right now because they are not close to covering the spread in their most recent games, except the one at Toronto in which their three-point conversion rate happened to be far superior to Toronto’s.

New Orleans’ Offensive Struggles 

But we cannot normally expect the Pelicans to shoot well from deep because they rank 21st in three-point percentage. Relevant to tonight’s game, they are even worse in other teams’ respective arenas. To be exact, their three-point conversion rate is 33.4 percent away from home.

The Pelicans also don’t like to attempt many threes. Their strength is attacking the basket, which they loved to do with the physical freak of nature Zion Williamson. Zion, however, remains injured.

While you might think that the Pelicans should have gotten used to playing without Zion because he is injured so often, the fact remains that he is a vital part of the Pelicans’ inside-oriented offense.

He is the team’s leading scorer by a significant margin — he averages 26 points per game — and he is the team’s second-leading rebounder and third-leading assist-getter.

Offensive Rating 

The offensive rating statistic indicates the extent to which the Pelican offense is struggling. On the season, the Pelicans rank 18th in offensive rating, which isn’t awful — it is just below average.

However, they rank 26th in offensive rating specifically since Zion’s absence began on January 3.

Before his injury-induced absence began, they ranked sixth in offensive rating. Evidently, his injury initiated a tremendous decline in offensive rating.

Perimeter Defense 

In order for New Orleans to remain competitive, it will have to rely on its improved defense. But its perimeter defense is something that the Trail Blazers can take advantage of.

New Orleans allows both open and wide-open three-point attempts with the fifth-highest frequency. The Pelicans also struggle to limit opposing three-point attempts in general — they rank 24th in doing so.

These statistics indicate that opponents are able to attempt more threes, and especially more uncontested or poorly contested three-pointers, against them.

Portland is certainly one team to benefit from this sort of defensive deficiency because the Trail Blazers love to shoot threes. They attempt the ninth-most per game and are good enough at making threes to rank eighth in three-point percentage.

Several Trail Blazer players are efficient shooters. Even shooting guard Matisse Thybulle, for example, is shooting 38.8 percent from behind the arc this season, although he has always been known for his defensive abilities. 

Scoring at the Basket 

Portland will also be able to score a lot at the basket against a Pelican defense that allows a high field goal percentage within five feet of the basket.

New Orleans allows a lot in transition whereas the Trail Blazers are lethal on the attack. Among other things, they like to employ drag screens in order to facilitate the dribble penetration of their ball handlers in transition.

In the half-court offense, they’ll take advantage of Pelican center Larry Nance Jr.’s continued absence. Nance is an effective ball-screen defender who allows New Orleans to switch a lot more.

Without him, the Pelicans must rely on center Jonas Valanciunas, whose lateral immobility renders him a liability in the ball-screen game, and on fellow center Jaxson Hayes, who allows too many PPP (points per possession) against the pick-and-roll for the ball-handler play type.

The Pelicans’ general lack of rim protection, amplified by their healthy centers’ issues with handling ball screens, will allow the likes of Portland star Damian Lillard to thrive by driving to the basket. 

Factors for the Total

While Portland has key offensive advantages — it is not missing its star player and it will thrive in transition and succeed in the ball-screen game — the Trail Blazers won’t score too many points.

The Pelicans still have a good overall ball-screen defense that features a good amount of switching by defenders who allow few PPP against the pick-and-roll for the ball-handler play type.

Also, Portland does miss an important player, even if he is nowhere near Zion’s caliber. The Trail Blazers miss shooting guard Anfernee Simons to an ankle injury. They’ll miss his high-volume shooting efficiency. They will also miss him because he is a valuable ball-handler and an important element in Portland’s ball-screen game.

The Verdict 

Portland’s star power, its advantage in transition and in the ball-screen game will carry it past struggling New Orleans, although Simons’ absence and New Orleans’ improved defense will keep the game well under the high posted total.

For your NBA picks, invest in the Trail Blazers and the “under.”

NBA Pick: Under 232 (-110) at Bovada

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Under 232 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.