Despite cooling off just a little after their red-hot start, the Portland Trail Blazers are still on track for their best season in over a decade. But their forthcoming road trip, which starts on Friday, will give us a valuable indication of their staying power.
The Blazers travel to the San Antonio Spurs to tip off a swing that also takes in the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. So far against that group they’re a combined 4-2 but that was with the benefit of a heavy home bias.
Away from Rip City, Portland remain an impressive 13-5 and they responded well to shock losses to Sacramento and Philadelphia with victories over another trio of strugglers in Cleveland, Boston and Orlando, whilst shading their season average of 109.1 points per game.
The Spurs, however, are on a six-game winning run and at home they are out-scoring visitors by 105.3-97.9. With Portland notching up 104.1 on their travels, it’s worth looking under the total points line – with San Antonio edging it.
Following three straight defeats some are questioning the motivation of the Miami Heat, and they won’t take a win over the Philadelphia 76ers for granted after their stunning loss to their unfancied rivals on the campaign’s opening night.
During the current skid, the Heat have averaged just 94.7 points, 9.4 less than their season mark, and given up 106.7, 8.1 less than the norm. Ray Allen’s production has dropped while Miami will surely look for more points from Chris Bosh in his match-up with Spencer Hawes.
It’s easy to say we’ll get a reaction from the defending champions, who are 1.32 for the win, but they’ve lost to a trio of sub-.500 opponents. Yet although Philly is a tempting 3.40, it looks time for the Heat to ignite.
Best bet: Go under the total points line in San Antonio-Portland