Lakers vs. Trail Blazers NBA Picks: Avoid the Spread Altogether

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

LeBron James won’t play when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Can LA overcome the NBA odds without their best player? Here’s a complete preview, including betting odds and free NBA picks.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – 10:30 PM EDT at Moda Center

The Trail Blazers opened at -4.5 at FanDuel and over at FiveThirtyEight, they have them at -8.5. FiveThirtyEight gives the Trail Blazers an 80 percent chance to win. For support, we turn to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin’s projections; he has the Trail Blazers at -1.83 using his Rating numbers and at -1.62 using his eigenvector analysis.

This leaves a 4-point gap between the FiveThirtyEight projections for the Trail Blazers and the actual NBA odds. LeBron James is expected to miss at least one week with abdominal strain and that has a lot to do with this line. The Lakers are just 2-7 ATS this season, including 1-2 ATS without James.

The Melo Effect

The Trail Blazers (4-5 SU and 3-6 ATS) are also in a rut, so maybe we should just insta-fade them as 4.5-point home faves on Bet365. I thought that the Trail Blazers would be fine after their October 29 home game against the Clippers. Damian Lillard started the year just 6-for-35 from beyond the arc but he went 5-for-7 that night to lead his team to a 111-92 victory as 3.5-point home favorites on the closing NBA lines.

Lillard was expected to regress to the mean but Portland is just 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS since. It’s a small sample size at nine games, but Lillard’s career-low minus-4.9 Box Plus/Minus at Basketball Reference is up only slightly from minus-5.2 when the Clippers visited them.

It seems that this roster isn’t built for his talents – with Jusuf Nurkic (minus-0.2 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and Cody Zeller (minus-1.8 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) at center, neither a threat from distance. Dame had one of the worst games of his career on Friday’s 110-106 home win against the Pacers, scoring just four points on 2 of 13 shooting and 0 of 6 from 3-point range in 38 minutes. Clearly not the Dame that we know.

Portland is missing Carmelo Anthony (plus-4.3 Offensive Box Plus/Minus), who has hit 32 3-pointers to start the season, the most through the first nine games of a season in Lakers history. Melo has scored the third-most in the NBA this season behind Stephen Curry and former teammate CJ McCollum and he’s doing it at the best clip (52.5 percent).

Anthony can keep the Lakers in this game but Anthony Davis (plus-2.7 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) is day-to-day with a thumb sprain and I can’t trust a Lakers team without LeBron and possibly AD and with Russell Westbrook making questionable decisions at point guard.

Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Prediction

I’ll avoid the spread altogether for my NBA picks and play the Under on that 219.5 total at BetMGM. Both teams run the floor at a medium pace, especially the Lakers, helping the Under go 4-5 for them and 6-3 for the Trail Blazers. Portland has a new head coach that players still need to get used to in Chauncey Billups and Los Angeles ranks 15th in the league with 105.6 points per 100 possessions.

NBA Pick: Under 219.5 (-110) at BetMGM