Portland (0-0) at L.A. Clippers (0-0)
When: Sunday, April 17th 2016
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 10:35 ET | TV: TNT
The Portland Trail Blazers visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night in Game 1 of their first round playoff series with the winner more than likely getting Golden State in the second round. The Clippers pretty much breezed to the fourth seed in the West this year despite not having their star player, Blake Griffin, for over 3 months. Griffin returned to the lineup on April 3rd after missing extended time due to quad, hand and suspension issues and played in five of the final seven games, averaging 10.4 points on 40% shooting in 24.6 minutes. L.A. held their opponents to a franchise-best 43.4% shooting this season, which was good for 2nd in the NBA. The Clippers reeled off six straight wins to begin this month, but lost the season finale at Phoenix 114-105. That was a meaningless game in which the Clippers rested most of their star players. Chris Paul averaged a double-double this season with 19.5 points and 10.0 assists per game, while DeAndre Jordan led the team and Western Conference with 13.8 rebounds per contest.
The Blazers came into this season with very low expectations from experts all around the NBA, but managed to not only grab a playoff spot, but the fifth seed. The season started out like the experts were right when they went 15-24 in their first 39 games, but went 29-14 the rest of the way. This team is led by their guard play in Damian Lillard (25.1) and C.J. McCollum (20.8). Their next closest scorer is Allen Crabbe at 10.3 points per game. Center Mason Plumlee will have his hands full underneath as the third year player from Duke leads the team with just 7.7 rebounds a game. Portland took the first meeting 102-91 at home on November 20th but dropped the next three. Lillard averaged a career-high 25.1 points but put up an average of just 18 on 32.4% shooting in four meetings with the Clippers.
I like taking underdogs early in the series. This Portland team really has nothing to lose and I believe Lillard and McCollum can play well enough to make this an interesting series. The Clippers know they’re favored and might be looking ahead to Golden State.
Pick: Blazers +8.5