Trail Blazers vs. Heat NBA Preview

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat shots. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat shots. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

 

With the trade deadline coming up, the NBA odds might change for Thursday’s game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Miami Heat

at AmericanAirlines Arena

 

Will they, or won’t they? Thursday is the NBA trade deadline, and after four straight losses, the Miami Heat (22-22 SU, 18-25-1 ATS) are said to be in serious talks with the Toronto Raptors about acquiring one or both of Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell. Miami could have a very different look when they host the Portland Trail Blazers (25-18 SU, 21-22 ATS) that same evening. There’s a catch: No matter which players Miami land if any, they won’t be available for Thursday’s game – and neither will anyone they trade away. So it’s understandable that the NBA odds for this matchup are on hold at press time. However, I’m willing to float an early recommendation for the Under, based on how both teams have been playing of late.

Heat, Not Fleet

The Heat (Under 25-19) are the right team for the job. They rank sixth overall in the league in defensive efficiency at 107.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, but only No. 24 on offense at 105.8 points scored. They also move at a mind-numbingly slow pace of 99.5 possessions per game, which ranks No. 26 overall. No wonder they’re thinking about adding Lowry – and perhaps Powell – to the mix. At first blush, the Trail Blazers (Over 23-20) look like the exact opposite of Miami. With Damian Lillard (plus-3.1 VORP) and C.J. McCollum (plus-0.9 VORP) in the backcourt, and with the likes of Enes Kanter (plus-0.4 VORP) and Carmelo Anthony (plus-0.1 VORP) providing support, the Blazers are sorely lacking in defensive chops – they’re No. 29 in that department at 115.0 points allowed per 100 possessions. At the other end, it’s all good: Portland rank sixth in offense at 113.6 points scored. Not the ideal dance partner for our NBA picks.

A Can Of Simoniz

The Blazers do have some redeeming qualities, though. They might score in bunches, but their offense is fairly slow at 100.4 possessions per game (No. 20 overall). The Under is also on a mini-run at 3-1 in their last four games. This coincides with spark-plug guard Anfernee Simons (minus-0.1 VORP) landing on the COVID-19 list, although Simons had already been getting fewer minutes with McCollum returning to the lineup after an extended injury layoff. The key here is still what happens with Miami. They have until 3:00 p.m. Eastern to make a deal, and there are several other players besides Lowry and Powell that could be available: Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and John Collins are rumored to be on the move. You might already know what’s happened by the time you read this, but otherwise, consider a small bet on the Under, and let the chips fall where they may.

NBA pick: Under (Editor’s Note: Choose the book and corresponding odds)

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