Two of the best power forwards in the NBA square off on Saturday when the Portland Trail Blazers host the Minnesota Timberwolves, and while Kevin Love might have already secured his All Star berth, you can bet he’d rather trade places with LaMarcus Aldridge in the standings.
Portland (32-11 overall) have lost just four times at home all season and their court has been an unhappy hunting ground for the Wolves, who have won just one of their last 16 visits here.
After three straight wins, Minnesota have finally given Love some support as they move up to a .500 record, most impressively on Friday when they held off Golden State on the road.
Yet it still falls on their totem, with Love averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds, just above Aldridge’s equally impressive 24.7 and 11.6.
Still even if the pair cancel each other out, it’s advantage Blazers in every way. Damian Lillard is scoring 21 versus Ricky Rubio’s 8.6. And while both team’s benches are in the league’s bottom three for points production, Portland’s reserves give up 4.4 less per 100 possessions than their rivals.
Which is why the hosts, with an extra night’s rest, are worth taking on the handicap and why it’s worth a punt under the total points line here.
No Kevin Durant? No problem for the OKC Thunder, who rested the league’s leading scorer on Friday but still extended their streak to six games with a 101-83 victory in Boston.
Durant could sit out again when his side travel on to visit the Philadelphia 76ers to protect his ailing shoulder and that could keep the Thunder below their season average of 105.4 points once more. But with the Sixers notching below 94 over their last seven games, expect OKC to be alright.
Best bet: Take Portland on the handicap over Minnesota