Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#2527 Los Angeles Clippers vs.
#2528 Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 10:05pm EDT
Moda Center, Portland
Written by Jordy

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The Portland Trail Blazers hope to conjure up some magic with Damian Lillard out with an injury and the Los Angeles Clippers coming to town for a visit. Things didn’t go according to plan in the Eastern Conference stretch of their schedule with the team losing three straight inter-conference games, including a 109-101 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. The Clippers, on the other hand, bounced back from a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers by stepping all over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Clippers hitting their stride

It’s kind of crazy how the Clippers have faded into the background of the ongoing arms race between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. They went from being NBA championship favorites last season to being the forgotten contender.

And maybe that’s a good thing.

That lack of pressure has led to them keeping their heads down and grinding back to relevancy. The team has quietly won eight of their last nine games, including a 124-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. Make no mistake, the Clippers are still built to go all the way.

Tuesday’s game will come against a Trail Blazers team they’ve defeated handily on two separate occasions. So they’ll be looking for the clean sweep in the third head-to-head meeting. Portland is the second-worst defensive team in basketball this season. Their inability to get stops is always going to play into the favor of a Clippers team with the exceptional duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the floor.

Perhaps the scariest thing about the Clippers is they’re finally starting to play good defense again. They are allowing an average 42.2 percent shooting and 103 points in their last three outings. If the defensive effort is there, the Clippers are going to be a problem for the entire NBA, much less a Trail Blazers team playing without Damian Lillard.

“McCollum Time” in Portland

Damian Lillard has already been ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Clippers, and the Trail Blazers will also be playing without center Jusuf Nurkic. Portland better grab its nearest watch with CJ McCollum’s face on it.

It’s McCollum time.

That’s the only hope the Trail Blazers have of surviving a third run-in with the Clippers. They have lost three of their last four games, including a recent 109-101 loss on the road to the Charlotte Hornets. It isn’t exactly the boost of confidence they’d typically be looking for when coming into a game against one of the Western Conference’s elite teams.

The defense has been absolutely atrocious for the Trail Blazers, and it’s ultimately the reason why they aren’t treated like legitimate contenders. They are allowing an average 47.8 percent shooting to opposing teams, and they are one of the worst teams in the league at forcing turnovers. There simply isn’t enough going on to truly threaten the Clippers.

McCollum has to do his best Lillard impression on offense to even keep the team in the fight, but that might be wishful thinking with the Clippers surging defensively.

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The Trail Blazers have been bad defensively all season long, but they have been able to offset it for the most part with Damian Lillard’s offensive wizardry.

But now that’s gone.

It was already going to be a daunting task for them going head-to-head with a Clippers team featuring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. More importantly, it’s a Clippers team clearly playing their best basketball of the season right now. They are starting to live up to their two-way potential by finally stepping it up on the defensive end of the floor.

The Trail Blazers couldn’t outscore them with Lillard on the court in the last two meetings. What makes anyone think they’ll be able to do so without him?

Not having Lillard in the lineup simply puts even more pressure on McCollum. He’ll soak up the brunt of the defensive attention from a Clippers team that has only lost two games in the month of April so far. They’re really rolling right now, and they’ll roll right over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. I’m laying the points and taking the Clippers.

Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers (-8.5)

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Both of the previous two games between these teams have been high-scoring affairs because the Trail Blazers can’t stop the bleeding. The defensive nightmare from last season has continued into 2021 with the team allowing an average of 114.7 points per game. That’s a big problem when dealing with an elite scoring offense led by one of the league’s best players in Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers have heaped 128-plus points on the scoreboard in each of their two run-ins with the struggling Trail Blazers, and Tuesday’s game will be no different. Give me the over in this one.

Prediction: Over (226.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.