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L.A. Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers NBA Preview & Free Pick

Clippers vs Blazers NBA Spread/Handicapping

The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the teams out West vying for conference supremacy this year, but they’ve had an inconsistent start to begin the 2012-13 season. The Portland Trail Blazers are a young group looking to win off of energy and excitement, and they’ll play host to the Clippers Thursday night on TNT.

Los Angeles Clippers (3-2) @ Portland Trail Blazers (2-2)
Thursday, November 8, 2012 on TNT
Rose Garden Arena, PORTLAND, ORE.
10:30 PM ET
Moneyline: OFF
Spread: EVEN from Bovada
O/U: 201.5

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Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are guilty at this point in the season of playing both up and down to their competition. They have statement wins against the Grizzlies, the Lakers and the Spurs—all playoff teams—while they have dropped games to the Warriors and Cavaliers.

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The Clippers are averaging 104.6 points per game, and while Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the stars of the team, it’s Jamal Crawford who has been the story early in the year. He is leading the team in scoring at 21.2 points per game in just 29 minutes, and he’ll be looking for somewhat of a revenge game following his only season with the Trail Blazers last year.

Los Angeles runs the fastest pace in all of basketball, which is why they’re a top-quality offensive team; but it also probably explains why they are a bad defensive group early in the year. The Clippers are giving up 98.6 points per game, which is in the bottom half of the NBA this season. The Trail Blazers run a similar style with similar defensive inadequacies, which means if the Clippers play their game to perfection, the edge will be in their favor.

Portland Trail Blazers

Like the Los Angeles Clippers, the Portland Trail Blazers love to get out and run. They are averaging 98.5 points per game this season, and while that’s not quite up there with the Clippers, the team’s starting lineup is averaging the most points among all starting fives in the entire NBA. [ad-6571516]

The downside to having such a high-scoring starting unit is that the bench virtually disappears. The Blazers’ reserves are averaging the fewest points of any bench squad in the NBA, which means if any of their starters have an off-night, things won’t be looking up for the team from the Pacific Northwest.

One of the key matchups in this game is going to come from the point guard position. Rookie Damian Lillard has jumped out to a historic start to his NBA career, but this will be his first matchup against an elite defender. The 6’3” guard has had his way with slower defenses, but against a fast-paced squad with an All-Defense First Team point guard, he will be put to the test for the first time this season. All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge will also be matching up against Blake Griffin. Griffin is the better rebounder, but Aldridge has an array of moves down low that Griffin has yet to add.

The Blazers like to play in transition, but they don’t do it nearly as well as the Clippers. This game is going to come down to which squad can best utilize their own skill sets, and in the case of youth versus experience, the leadership of the Clippers should trump the excitement of the home crowd come Thursday night.

Trends

LA Clippers are 3-7 SU in their last 10 games on the road
LA Clippers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games when playing Portland
Portland is 6-1 SU in their last 7 games when playing at home against LA Clippers
Portland is 13-5 SU in their last 18 games when playing LA Clippers

Score Prediction: Clips 110 Blazers 97

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