Even though the Portland Trailblazers lost at Toronto on Friday night they remain red hot and are clearly a team no one wants to face right now. This is particularly true if your team is in the pitiful form that the Charlotte Hornets are in. These teams will face off on Sunday at the Spectrum Center in the Queen City and it’s a game with serious playoff implications. Charlotte just wants to get into the playoffs. Right now, they’re not. They’re .001 behind the Orlando Magic in the race for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. To be completely honest, Orlando is a much more deserving side at this juncture. The Hornets won against the Nets at Brooklyn on Friday but have otherwise been in dismal form over the past month. Since a January 25 loss/cover against the Bucks at Milwaukee the Hornets are 4-8-2 against the spread and 6-8 SU. Orlando on the other hand has become one of the NBA’s more pleasant surprises this season. The Magic have won 8 of 10 after beating the Pacers on the road last night and are tied for the third best scoring defense in the NBA with Utah and Boston allowing just 106.6 PPG.
It’s difficult to play better basketball than the Blazers are playing right now. On December 1 they were 13-9 and tied with the Los Angeles Lakers (remember them?) for 7th place in the Western Conference. Since January 1 they’ve been red hot going 17-7 SU/ATS and even after a loss to Toronto on Friday night they’re tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for third place in the Western Conference. They might not catch the top two teams in the Conference–Denver is 4 games ahead and West leading Golden State is 5.5 up on Portland but the Blazers are playing better basketball than either of the two teams in front of them.
This game sets up perfectly for the Blazers who are coming off a hard fought loss to the Raptors in Toronto on Friday (Portland covered as +5 road dogs). Had they been able to beat Toronto this would have been a big ‘letdown’ spot but now the Blazers should have the focus to win here and close out their roadtrip on a winning note against the lowly Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. The cover at Toronto ran Portland’s ATS winning streak to six games and they’d be happy if they could work out an arrangement to play in the Eastern Conference (geography notwithstanding). The Blazers are 18-5 SU/16-7 ATS against the Eastern Conference this season. They’ve also done well taking care of business and winning games they’re supposed to win–both at home and on the road. Portland is 26-8 SU/22-12 ATS as a favorite this year including 6-1 SU/5-2 ATS as a road favorite.
Charlotte has struggled bigtime against the Western Conference going 7-15 SU/7-13-2 ATS. They’ve got a decent SU record at home (20-12) but are just 16-4-2 in their own building. They’ve been a fairly pitiful underdog this season going 8-21 SU/13-15-1 ATS when getting points. They’ve been a weak home underdog for several years now and enter this matchup on a 5-16-2 ATS run getting points on their own court. After winning SU they’re 19-18 SU/12-16 ATS and have been dominated by Northwest Division foes this year going 1-6 SU/2-5 ATS. In head to head play, Portland has covered 4 straight and 6 of 8. When the teams met last on January 11, 2019 in ‘The Rose City’ the Hornets were walloped by the Blazers 127-96 in a game that wasn’t even as close as that lopsided final score would suggest. Portland essentially does everything better than Charlotte on both ends of the floor and are in substantially better form right now. This has been a tendency of the Blazers under Terry Stotts–when they get hot they get *really* hot. No reason to fade Portland until they show some sign of form reversal.