Kawhi Leonard (load management) returns to action for the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday evening in a nationally-televised face-off against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. In what could be a playoff preview, the Clippers aren’t quite at full strength with Paul George (shoulder) on the shelf, while the Blazers have similar injury issues with Zach Collins (shoulder) out of the lineup and Jusuf Nurkic still recovering from offseason surgery on his leg. Tip-off is at 10:30 p.m. ET at the Staples Center. Sportsbooks list the Clippers as 5.5-point home favorites, holding steady from the opener, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 231 in the latest Clippers vs. Blazers odds. Before you make any Clippers vs. Blazers picks, see the NBA predictions from SportsLine’s advanced computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and anyone who followed it last season saw massive returns. The model finished 300-252 on all its top-rated picks. On top-rated against-the-spread and money line NBA picks alone, the model returned a whopping $4,280.
Now it has locked in on Clippers vs. Blazers. We can tell you it’s leaning under, and it also says one side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations. You can only see that pick at SportsLine.
With Lillard and CJ McCollum in the mix, the Blazers have a chance to win every night and they have displayed that over the past several seasons. The backcourt duo enters Thursday’s tilt averaging more than 50 points per game combined and, for Lillard individually, there have been spectacular moments on the way to 31.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds this season. The perimeter effectiveness leads to overall potency for Portland’s offensive, with a top-10 unit on that end of the floor, and the presence of a high-end play finisher in Hassan Whiteside has opened some doors near the rim that were not able to be utilized previously by the Blazers.
Just because Portland has a few edges doesn’t mean it will cover the Clippers vs. Blazers point spread on Thursday.
At the forward spots, the Clippers have a clear advantage and that would be true even if Leonard wasn’t one of the best players in the NBA. Portland’s offseason roster changes lead to a scenario in which the Blazers are exceptionally shallow at the forward spots, and Collins’ injury leaves the cupboard barren. Players like Kent Bazemore and Rodney Hood have performed admirably, but neither have the size and bulk needed to bother Leonard, and that leads to a favorable match-up for the All-NBA forward.
If Portland is able to slow Leonard, the Clippers have real depth to take advantage elsewhere, headlined by Lou Williams and a rotating cast of effective floor-spacers. At present, Los Angeles has an elite-level offense that will be facing off against a below-average defense, leading to a stark advantage for the home team.
So who wins Blazers vs. Clippers? And which side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Trail Blazers vs. Clippers spread you need to jump on Thursday, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks.