The LA Clippers face the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center in a blockbuster Western Conference matchup on Tuesday. The Damian Lillard-less Trail Blazers are coming off an unfortunate loss against a short-handed Charlotte Hornets team. The LA Clippers, meanwhile, have won 8 of their last 9 games, including a thrilling 10-point victory over the Phoenix Suns.
The Portland Trail Blazers face the 4th-toughest schedule in the league with 16 games remaining, and they risk falling out of the top 6 seeds and into the play-in spots. They have lost 6 of their last 9 games and their subpar defense is failing to hold up against the top tier teams.
LA Clippers vs Portland Trail Blazers Prediction
The LA Clippers are the overwhelming favorites to win against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers are ranked 29th in Defensive Rating and that level of defense simply doesn't stand a chance against a high-volume three-point shooting team like the LA Clippers, who are ranked 1st in Offensive Rating and 3P%.
These two teams are facing off for the third time this season and the LA Clippers won both the earlier meetings. They defeated the Trail Blazers by more than 17 points in both games and this matchup should deliver more of the same. Damian Lillard is questionable for the game but even if he does lace up, the odds would still favor the LA Clippers.
LA Clippers vs Portland Trail Blazers Combined 5
Point Guard - Damian Lillard | Shooting Guard - Paul George | Small Forward - Kawhi Leonard | Power Forward - Nicolas Batum | Center - Jusuf Nurkic.
Damian Lillard has been on fire this season. He is averaging the third-highest points per game in the league with 28.7 a night and his exploits have taken the Portland Trail Blazers to 6th seed in the competitive Western Conference. Lillard believes he deserves the MVP award over everyone else because of his efforts keeping the Trail Blazers afloat while his starting teammates were injured.
Paul George is having his best shooting season so far. He has scored 30 or more in 5 of his last 6 games and has found his mojo in his "revenge season". He is averaging 23.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Moreover, George is also a great defender and his production on both sides of the floor make him an elite two-way player.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the best small forwards in the league. His elite defensive prowess earned him the 2014 Finals MVP and two 'Defensive Player of the Year' awards. Leonard is also incredible at scoring as he is averaging 25.7 points per game shooting 51% from the field and 39% from three. Along with Paul George, he has led the LA Clippers to the 3rd spot in the tough Western Conference.
Nicolas Batum is the ideal power forward for a star-studded starting 5 like this one. He is a great playmaker and can be relied upon to create shots for the stars when he gets the ball. He is also a great shooter, averaging 41% from the three-point line this season, so he can reliably hit that three after a kick-out pass.
Batum's defense is highly underrated as well and he has developed significantly in that areas this season.
And finally, the center will be Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers. Clippers' Serge Ibaka would be a better option due to his shooting and defensive abilities but since he is injured, Nurkic is the second-best choice. Nurkic is back after injury in the 22 games he's played this season, and is averaging 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.