Spurs vs. Trail Blazers NBA Odds, Preview, and Prediction

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CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers. Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP

Damian Lillard’s absence should make the Portland Trail Blazers the right NBA pick this Thursday night versus the San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Thursday, December 2, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Moda Center

This was bound to happen eventually. I was surfing the interwebs just the other day, and what did I see? Someone proclaims that Damian Lillard is washed. Well, then. That’s a hot take I was not expecting to see. Overvalued, perhaps, but washed? That’s a strong statement for a player who’s performing at a league-average level through his first 20 games of the 2021-22 regular season.

This makes me wonder if the Portland Trail Blazers (11-11 SU, 9-12-1 ATS) are the wrong NBA pick for Thursday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs (6-13 SU, 10-9 ATS). It’s just been announced as we go to press that Lillard will miss at least the next 10 days with lower abdominal tendinopathy; normally, we’d jump all over that and put our money on Portland, given how everyone’s been puckering up to Lillard for the past several years. Now I’m not so sure.

Damian Demento

I know this much: Lillard has been playing his worst basketball like a pro. That’s according to the fine folks at Basketball Reference, who have Lillard pegged at minus-0.2 using their Box Plus/Minus stats. That’s plus-2.6 BPM on offense, which is still good, but the second-lowest of his career, and minus-2.8 BPM on defense, which is his worst effort at that end of the court. Who knows, maybe this is it for Dame Time at age 31.

We’ll soon see if it’s just his health that’s keeping Lillard down. I also know that the Trail Blazers split their two games this year SU and ATS with Lillard out of the lineup. Not much of a sample size there, so let’s take a trip back in time and figure out how Portland did without their No. 1 guy the past five seasons:

  • 2020-21: 3-2 SU and ATS
  • 2019-20: 2-6 SU, 3-5 ATS
  • 2018-19: 2-0 SU and ATS
  • 2017-18: 5-4 SU, 5-3-1 ATS
  • 2016-17: 3-4 SU, 5-2 ATS

Let’s see, carry the one... that’s a grand total of 15-16 SU and a very healthy 18-12-1 ATS. See, I told you that fade/follow dynamic is a profitable strategy for your NBA picks. But is Lillard still all that in the public eye? Will his absence still cause bettors to freak out and put all their money on San Antonio? Maybe not, given that it’s San Antonio.

The Spurs are pretty bad this year, although not as bad as their record would suggest – and there’s a good chance they’ll have Devin Vassell (plus-0.3 BPM) back in uniform after he missed the last two games with a bruised right quad. The sportsbooks are taking their sweet time coming up with some NBA odds for this matchup, so we’re working without a net as we go to press, but we’re willing to bite the bullet and recommend the Trail Blazers here – for a suitably small wager, just in case the betting public doesn’t freak out the way they used to.

NBA Pick: Trail Blazers 3.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Trail Blazers 3.5 (-108)
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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.