NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers Predictions & Picks

Damian LillardWith the playoffs locked up for both teams, the Portland Trail Blazers host the San Antonio Spurs today in a postseason tune-up for both teams (7pm ET Monday).

Portland has been playing some of its best basketball as of late, winning eight of their last 10. The team’s most recent win came against the Utah Jazz where all-star Damian Lillard put on an offensive clinic. The 26-year-old scored a career high 59 points and shot 9-of-14 from beyond the arc, making him the first player in NBA history to accomplish such a feat.

Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA, averaging 27 points per game this season and just under six assists and five rebounds as well. In the month of April, he’s averaged 30.6 points per game, is shooting 92 percent from the free throw line, and has scored no fewer than 19 points per game during Portland’s last 10-game stretch. Undoubtedly, Lillard is a huge part of why the Trail Blazers clinched the eighth and final playoff seed. This marks the fourth straight season, Portland has reached the playoffs.

The Spurs meanwhile, have also been hot, recording a 7-3 record in their last 10 games and a 61-19 record over the course of the regular season. Quietly, they’ve once again amassed a 60-win season, their second consecutive and sixth in the last 15 years. That’s more than double any other team in the league.

San Antonio’s history of consistent success is quite incredible and once again, they’ll be poised for a deep postseason run. This is the fourth and final regular season head-to-head matchup for these two teams with the Spurs leading the series 2-1. San Antonio took the first two contests, scoring 110 points both times, before Portland struck back about a month ago, defeating the Spurs at home by just four points. It was a closely contested contest and showed that despite the difference in season victories, that these two teams aren’t that far off talent wise. Today’s game should be no different.

Will Gregg Popovich Rest the Starters?

No matter if it is the seventh game of the year or the 82nd, when it comes to the Spurs, there is also the question of if head coach Gregg Popovich will opt to rest his star players. While this is not typically the case at home, the fact that the team can’t get any higher or lower than the second seed seems to suggest some of the big names won’t be in action.

This season, the Spurs have rested six different players over the course of 23 games. As recent as Saturday, Danny Green, one of the heroes from the last time San Antonio won the NBA Championship, sat out from the game. Now, Popovich has said he doesn’t intend to rest any players over the last two games over the season but that could change over the next few days.

One of the reasons the Spurs have been so successful in the postseason despite their age, which had been among the oldest in the league until recently, is because of Popovich’s excellent way of managing his players. So, if it happens that someone like Manu Ginobli or Tony Parker sits out or at the very least plays limited minutes today, it would be less than surprising.

San Antonio Spurs vs Portland Trail Blazers Picks and Predictions Conclusion

Because of the lack of knowledge about the line-ups, the USA sportsbooks are not yet (at time of writing) offering odds on tonight’s game. The closeness in offensive efficiency is enough to suggest this will be a close one as both teams prepare for their postseason runs.

Portland edges out the Spurs in points scored by game by just under three whereas the Spurs hold the edge in field goal percentage by one percentage point, three point field goal percentage by just over two points and three throw percentage again by just over one point. As for total rebounds, it’s even closer with the Spurs holding just factions of percentage points over the Trail Blazers.

Where the disparity lies however is on the defensive side of the ball. The Spurs have the league’s best defense, allowing an NBA-low 100.8 points per game. Another disparity is in bench depth as the Spurs reserves have outscored the opposition 21 times in the last 25 games.

Once again, it comes down to consistency for San Antonio and it’s this consistency that will help them overpower the Trail Blazers once again. Take the Spurs to win straight up.