Portland Trail Blazers fans who enjoy betting on NBA games have seen their team start the new year on a hit-and-miss basis. The Blazers (16-23) got off on the right foot on New Year’s Day with a 95-89 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, and then went on to predictably – the final outcome was predictable, that is, though Portland refused to go down without a fight – lose 117-125 to the Golden State Warriors on January 4th. That pattern recurred with a 118-109 win over the Lakers on the 5th, and a 124-125 double overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons on the 7th.
The Blazers came really close to defying NBA betting odds against the Warriors on Wednesday, which especially considering they were playing without leader Damian Lillard (26.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.3 apg). On the other hand, that allowed point guard C.J. McCollum free reign to take over Portland’s offense. McCollum shot 13 of 31 from the field (41.9%), 4 of 11 from the three-point line (36.4%), and 5 of 5 (100%) from the free-throw line for 35 points – 26 in the first half – in 38 minutes. In addition to that, the point guard had nine rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Unfortunately for Portland, the Warriors remembered to play some D in the second half, limiting the Blazers to 21 points in the third quarter. Furthermore, Golden State’s Klay Thompson remained on McCollum like white on rice for the remainder of the game. In the end, the Warriors once more lived up to their hype as NBA betting favorites at the expense of Portland.
The Blazers returned to the good graces of fans betting on NBA games on Thursday against the Lakers. Lillard was back on the court and scored 21 points in 35 minutes, and added five rebounds and 10 assists. Lillard’s unselfishness allowed McCollum to once again lead the offensive charge. McCollum had 27 points on 16 shots, plus four rebounds and seven assists. Portland set a franchise record with nine consecutive wins against the Lakers. The extreme cold in the city might have helped the Blazers; both D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson were battling colds on Thursday. While that may not account for the Lakers squandering a 14-point lead right before halftime – which is actually par for the course for the Los Angeles team – it certainly did the visitors no favors.
As good as McCollum has been playing, he showed on Saturday why he is not “the” guy – at least not yet –; the one that makes or breaks NBA betting odds. After a 24-hour weather and a double overtime, McCollum literally had the game in his hands with four seconds to go. McCollum made good use of teammate Mason Plumlee’s screen and made the most of Pistons center Andre Drummond’s hesitation to fire off the shot that could have turned him into a hero. Instead, the ball bounced off the front of the rim, and the Blazers’ hearts sank to the floor of the Moda Center. Did that render McCollum’s 35-point effort meaningless? That’s for fans betting on NBA games to decide.