The Portland Trail Blazers wrap up their six-game road trip tonight in Canada, with the chance to finish the trek with a 4-2 record — a shocking success if it were to happen. Even if Portland only manages to finish their international journey at .500, hardly anybody could say that they expected the team to perform better in this stretch. The Blazers have a daunting task ahead of them tonight, facing an upstart Toronto Raptors squad that’s gone 6-4 in their last 10 games.
The Raptors technically aren’t a big team — recently starting a frontcourt tandem of Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa for an average height of 6’8 — but they deploy a collection of length and defensive hustle that could make life tough on the Trail Blazers’ perimeter scorers.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Toronto Raptors: Preview, injury report, and betting guide (01/23/2022)
The first time these two teams met this season, in Portland in mid-November, the Trail Blazers squeaked it out, 118-113, despite a 29-point outing from OG Anunoby. CJ McCollum matched OG’s scoring output in that contest and will look to keep up his season average versus the Raptors tonight.
Damian Lillard – out (abdominal surgery)
Norman Powell – out (personal)
Larry Nance Jr. – out (knee)
Cody Zeller – out (knee)
Dennis Smith Jr. – probable (ankle)
Nassir Little – probable (knee)
Goran Dragic – out (personal)
Khem Birch – out (nose)
David Johnson – out
Spread: Toronto Raptors -8, -340 moneyline
Apparently, WynnBet didn’t learn anything from Portland’s last matchup against the Celtics. The oddsmakers put up a similar line for the Boston game and Portland not only beat the spread, but they also won the contest outright.
While I’m not confident that the Trail Blazers will be able to get enough offense against this spunky Raptors team — their fierce ball pressure and unique defensive sets will make it tough on an offense that lacks a pure point guard — I am certain that this game should be reasonably close when the final buzzer sounds.
Look for the Trail Blazers to establish Nurk in the post early and use that advantage to craft an inside-out attack. With Portland’s lack of perimeter playmaking and the Bosnian Beast’s size superiority, they’ll need Jusuf to run the offense from the key to pull this one out.
Regardless, I don’t see the Raptors taking this one by more than eight.
Verdict: Portland Trail Blazers +8
The last time these two squads faced off they combined for 231. While Portland will be going to war without two of their best scorers in Dame and Norm, they’ll have a wide margin to work within this one.
Nevertheless, Toronto’s defense has been especially stingy as of late. The last time they allowed over 108 points was against the Milwaukee Bucks on January 5.
The Raptors have plenty of lanky defenders to throw at Simons and McCollum and should be able to limit Portland’s perimeter scoring. Toronto’s offense will surely experience some lulls of their own, as well.
Verdict: Under 214
WynnBet has Nurkic listed at +240 to nab over 25 combined points and assists. Nurk just dominated a much sturdier frontline than Toronto’s, beating up the Celtics’ bigs to the tune of 29 points and six assists. This should be an easy prop to add to your parlay.