The Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers have had underwhelming starts to the 2021-2022 NBA season, with neither team being above the .500 mark through nearly a week of play. Against one another, both teams will look to start building in the right direction with a win. And both teams will hope to get their star players going, as this game could come down to which of the two stars on the floor plays the best.
The Clippers have lost each of their first two contest since the tip off of the NBA season, while the Trail Blazers have gone 1-1 to start the year. And while both teams have playoff aspirations for later in the campaign, those hopes could be harmed immensely by the continuation of these slow starts. In this preview of Monday night’s Portland Trail Blazers vs. Lor Angeles Clippers game, we break down both teams and determine which will reverse their fortunes.
Portland Trail Blazers – Hanging In There Early
It has been a rough start to the season for the Portland Trail Blazers, as they lost their season opening game to the Sacramento Kings. Thanks to some favorable circumstances heading into their second game of the year, they were able to beat the Phoenix Suns. But the Suns were on the second game of a road back to back, and the Trail Blazers will be in for a much stiffer challenge on Monday night when they play their first road game against the Clippers.
Something to watch out for early in this season is the poor form of Damian Lillard for the Trail Blazers. Lillard is shooting 12.5% from three-point range through two games, and is averaging under 20 points per game. Against a Clippers team that is capable of lighting up the scoreboard in their own right, Lillard will need to get back on track to help his team avoid a loss that would drop them to 1-2 on the young season.
Expected Line-Up: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Larry Nance Jr., Jusuf Nurkic
with best odds
Los Angeles Clippers – Looking For First Win
The results early in this season simply have not been there for the Los Angeles Clippers, as they have lost their first two games of the season. After a tightly contested loss on the road against the Warriors, Los Angeles dropped its home opener in a six-point game to the Memphis Grizzlies. That game against Memphis really underscored just how much help Paul George needs and how he isn’t getting it from his teammates in the early stages of this year.
Against the Grizzlies, George was the only player on the Clippers to score more than 17 points in the game. Even still, the Clippers were competitive until the end in that game, signifying that if they can get just a little more production out of their role players, they should be able to string together some wins soon. It is also worth remembering what an undertaking it is for this team to try to prosper without Kawhi Leonard in their lineup due to injury.
Expected Line-Up: Reggie Jackson, Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac
Expert Pick #1 – Clippers -3 @ -110
Even with their struggles so far this season, the best bet for this game is to take the Clippers at -110 odds. Los Angeles is primed to get their first win of the season in this matchup, against a Trail Blazers team whose best player is struggling mightily with his shot. And with Portland playing in its first road game of the season, the Clippers’ home crowd should be a factor here.
Expert Pick #2 – Over 235 @ -110
Another bet to make for this matchup is the over 235 at -110 odds. Without Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers are a demonstrably worse defensive team than they were with him on the floor. And the Trail Blazers are simply not a quality defensive team. Expect this matchup to see one or both teams reach the 120s to help the over get home.
Expert Pick #3 – Jusuf Nurkic Under 14.5 Points @ -115
Finally, it would be wise to bet on Jusuf Nurkic to go under the 14.5 point mark at odds of -115. Nurkic opened the season with a 20-point performance against a defensively challenged Kings team, but was held to just nine points against the Suns the game after. Against Ivica Zubac, Nurkic should once again be held in check.
Over the course of the entire season, the Portland Trail Blazers may end up better than the Los Angeles Clippers due to the absence of Kawhi Leonard. But in Portland’s first road game of the year, the Trail Blazers are going to struggle here and give the Clippers the opportunity they need to get their first win. It will be a big night for Paul George, and his reinforcements should help the Clippers bring it home.