Jusuf Nurkic has made the Under a solid NBA pick for the Portland Trail Blazers. Will that trend hold up Tuesday versus the Boston Celtics?
Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 – 10:00 PM ET at Moda Center
The Portland Trail Blazers (31-22 SU, 26-27 ATS) were one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA heading into the trade deadline. Now, not so much. Portland upgraded, at least a little, when they acquired Norman Powell from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood. More importantly, they welcomed Jusuf Nurkic back from the injured list; they’re only 2-4 SU and ATS in April, but the Under is 5-1, and that looks like the right NBA pick for Tuesday’s home game versus the Boston Celtics (28-26 SU, 25-28-1 ATS), with online sportsbook SBK opening the total at 228 points.
Portland (Over 28-25) had been a reliable Over pick for most of the season, riding the hot shooting of Damian Lillard (plus-3.4 VORP, according to Basketball Reference) and, when healthy, C.J. McCollum (plus-1.4 VORP). But they were compromising their title chances at the other end; the Blazers still have a minus-0.2 point differential on the season, suggesting they’re much closer to a .500 team than their record would indicate.
Powell (plus-1.2 VORP) is helping somewhat. He’s in many ways a more polished version of Trent (minus-0.1 VORP), especially on the defensive end, and the Blazers are putting Powell in a position to succeed by not relying on him to create. Nurkic (plus-0.1 VORP) is the key to this pick, though, provided he plays Tuesday as expected. He’s a significantly better defender than Enes Kanter (plus-0.7 VORP), and Nurkic’s minutes have slowly increased since his return, but he’s also sat out a couple of games for maintenance purposes.
The Celtics (Under 28-26) needed some help at the deadline, too, but they needed it on offense, and they struck gold when they stole Evan Fournier (plus-0.7 VORP) from the Orlando Magic for Jeff Teague (minus-0.1 VORP). Fournier is a gifted shooter who’s also worked hard to become a viable two-way player; unfortunately for Boston fans, Fournier has landed on the COVID-19 list and won’t be available for Tuesday’s game.
Neither will Daniel Theis (plus-0.6 VORP). Boston massaged their cap situation by sending Theis to the Chicago Bulls in a three-way deal that brought in Luke Kornet (plus-0.1 VORP) from Chicago and Moritz Wagner (plus-0.1 VORP) from the Washington Wizards. With Robert Williams (plus-1.8 VORP) playing so well at both ends, the C’s decided to promote Williams to the starting lineup and set Theis free; the Under is 8-2 since that deal, with Wagner’s offensive limitations providing extra help off the bench.
These are already two of the slower teams in the league, so when you combine that with their recent performances, the Under looks even better for Tuesday’s matchup – certainly better than the spread, which SBK opened at Portland –2 on their NBA odds board. There’s little value there with both teams struggling ATS right now, so bet accordingly, and enjoy the game.
NBA Pick: Under 227.5 (–112) at SBK