The early success of the Portland Trail Blazers has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the NBA season so far but few would have predicted that they would hold the third-best record in the league, as we approach the end of the first month of the new campaign.
Let’s not get carried away just yet. In their 11-2 start, only San Antonio, Golden State and Chicago have been truly elite opponents. But over the next month, they only see Oklahoma City and Indiana among the other early contenders. The feel-good factor could be around for a while yet.
The Blazers go for an 11th successive victory on Monday night when the New York Knicks visit the Moda Center and on current form, it’s a no-brainer for the hosts for the win at 1.25. Raymond Felton is a doubt as the visitors try to break a five-game skid and that could give extra openings for Damien Lillard who is averaging 19.9 points per game this season.
Portland are also 5-1 at home and out-scoring opponents by an average of 5.9 points and although they’ve had some indifferent first halves, they’ve been able to recover in good time. With the Knicks slowing the pace, it could bring this one under the total points line of 194.5, available at 1.90. But back the Blazers to stay hot on the handicap of -7.5 as the pressure continues to build on New York.
The best news out of Charlotte in years is that when the Bobcats become the Hornets (again) next season, they’ll be back in the traditional teal uniforms of the Alonzo Mourning era. What the fans there would prefer, you suspect, is a winning team and it’s a little surprising that they’ve been cheered by their local favourites compiling a 7-7 record so far.
They host the Boston Celtics tonight and it’s an ideal opportunity to improve on a 3-4 home mark. Charlotte are an anomaly: giving up 14 points more on their own court than on the road but after winning 89-83 in Boston earlier this month, go with the Bobcats and head over the total points line of 185.5 at 1.90.
Take Portland on the handicap of -7.5 over New York at 1.91
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