With the NCAA Conference Tournaments in full swing and March Madness beginning, we forget that there is still great NBA action to be found. And since we won’t know the NCAA Odds for Friday’s games until late Thursday night, or how the tournament brackets will look for that matter, we are going to point our eyes back to the NBA for a moment.

The Portland Trail Blazers get a chance for triple redemption against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. They’ve taken two off the Pelicans this season, but now they are tasked with defeating New Orleans in the Smoothie King Center.

The Matchup

The Pelicans walloped Portland in the playoffs last year and because of this New Orleans actually holds a 6-4 advantage over the Zers in their last 10 meetings. That said, the Blazers both won and covered the point spread both times these two teams have met this season.

Back in November, the Blazers trounced the Pelicans 132-119 and covered as -8 favorites. Then in January, the Blazers won 128-112 as -3 favorites. This time around BetOnline has opened with the Trail Blazers as -6.5 road favorites.

The Numbers

When we glance at the basics stats, the almost seven-point spread doesn’t make sense. In all situations combined, the Blazers have close to a +4-point margin advantage. But on the road, the Blazers have only been so-so this season. Ranking 12th offensively on the highway, Portland is only putting up 111 points per game (110.85 to be exact) and worse, is they are allowing 112 which is a point more than they score. The Pelicans are dropping 116 at home and allowing 114. So blindly backing the Blazers on the road just because they are listed as moderate favorites is not the best choice. At least, we need to consider all of the factors.

Despite the situational points scored on average, Portland has the advantage in a few key defensive areas:

 

  • Portland allows 112 vs. NOLA’s 114.
  • Their Road Defense has a slightly better opponent FG% 46.6% to 47.3%.
  • They allow fewer total rebounds, 43.6 to 44.5.
  • Portland’s allowed free throw % is slightly less (74.84 vs. 75.81).

 

Even though the Pelicans score a tad over five points more on average in this home vs. away scenario, the Blazers shoot much better from the line on the road than the Pelicans do at home (82.5% vs. 77.84). They are also better from behind the arc. So, when we factor in rebounding and free throws, the 3-point home differential that favors the Pelicans starts to look less impressive.

Momentum and More Stats

The Pelicans are in the midst of a four-straight-loss run. They’ve lost back to back to Utah, Toronto, Atlanta, and Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Portland is coming off of two solid wins against the Suns and the Clippers.

The Pelicans tend to play worse after a loss. Their record after losing is 17-22. Portland, on the other hand, is 23-17 after winning. And they hold the same record against the spread after a win. The Blazers are 9-3 (75%) when listed as away favorites and the Pelicans, unfortunately, are just 12-28 as underdogs and 5-9 as home dogs.

The signs point towards a Rip City road victory but 6.5 points is still a lot in this situation. Take the Blazers to win, but wait on that number. If you can find it at -5.5 or less take the Blazers. But over 6 is too risky.