NBA Betting – Thursday Picks – Boston Celtics vs Portland Trail Blazers
Before nba betting fans turn their attention to more sports betting events this weekend, we have the NBA doubleheader on Thursday night. It’s time for our weekly hoops picks for NBA gambling action.
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CELTICS vs. TRAIL BLAZERS
Records: Boston (34-10 SU, 21-21-2 ATS) vs. Portland (25-21 SU, 22-21-3 ATS)
Time: Thursday 10:30 ET
Venue: Rose Garden, Portland
Spread: Celtics -4.5
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They trudge up and down the court, these Celtics do, if only because their contracts state that they must. A playoff spot was guaranteed long before the start of training camp, and while no one in the organization will admit it, the cost of going hard after home-court edge throughout the playoffs (added minutes to key players) would come with too high a price. So Doc Rivers deals with the inevitable injuries, makes sure the Pierce-Garnett-Allen triumvirate is not on the court for too many minutes, and hopes everything pulls together for what appears will be a battle royal in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Rivers and front office boss Danny Ainge knew that injuries would be inevitable. Paul Pierce is 33, Ray Allen 35, Kevin Garnett 34 and Shaq Daddy himself will be Jack Benny’s age (39) when the playoffs get under way in mid-April. If they’re healthy, they have a decent shot at getting out of the East; they know that the rest of the regular season is a glorified exhibition season before the real basketball is played.
In the meantime, there is still almost half a season left, and if the first 44 games have told us anything about the Celtics, it’s that motivation against bad teams is an issue. Boston can still get it together against the good teams, but has lost to some real bowsers this season – to Cleveland in the second game of the year when the Cavs had no idea how much they really suck; to Toronto when Rajon Rondo was out with an injury; to Detroit (also without Rondo); to Houston in Boston when PG Aaron Brooks torched Rondo for 24 points; and to Washington when the Celtics sleepwalked through the second, third and fourth periods, and John Wall banked in a game-winning 3-pointer.
Jermaine O’Neal, expected to give the front line some length while Kendick Perkins recovered from knee surgery, has been a bust. Shaq has been in and out of the lineup, rookie Semi Erden has been OK. Perkins is back, but his minutes will be monitored until at least the end of February.
Tonight’s Portland game is the start of a 6-day, 4-game Western swing for the Celtics, and while all four opponents (Blazers, Suns, Lakers and Kings) are weaker than they were last season, nothing can be taken for granted as the Celtics shrug their shoulders and go about business, awaiting springtime and hoping to mobilize for perhaps one final run to The Finals.
Best bets: This is nowhere near the Bataan Death March that it would have been even last year, and Boston is a solid 12-7 on the road. Portland had been adjusting OK (5 wins in a row) to life without Brandon Roy until the Blazers experienced a complete defensive/offensive letdown in a 15-point loss at home to the Kings on Monday night.
LaMarcus Aldridge appears to be slowing down under the stress of a huge minutes – he’s played more than 40 in 5 straight, 6 of the last 7 and 7 of the last 9.
Liking Boston to do some damage at the start of the road trip.
Looking for a nice PARLAY wager? In the TNT opener, 3.5 will not be enough for the Knicks against the rested Heat, who have had 5 days of rest, which is their longest break between games all season.
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Lawrence Paul is a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog, and is a free-lance gambling and travel expert from Massachusetts.