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Lakers vs. Trail Blazers prediction and pick, along with Miami Heat vs. Utah Jazz picks. Saturday's NBA picks and predictions from Jonathan Macri
ANALYSIS

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers Prediction: Can Dame Break Out of His Slump?

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers Prediction

Lakers vs. Trail Blazers odds

There are slumps, and then there is whatever the hell Damian Lillard is currently mired in.

Fresh off being named one of the 75 greatest players of all time, Dame Time has turned into Lame Time over the season’s first nine games. Lillard is currently averaging 18.8 points on 33.7 shooting overall and 21.7 percent from deep. Those last two numbers are last and third to last among the 44 players in the league averaging at least 15 field goal attempts per game.

Thankfully, it hasn’t completely torpedoed Portland’s season thanks to how well some of his teammates have been performing. CJ McCollum has picked up right where he left off before his injury last season, averaging 23.8 points on 45 percent overall and a scorching 44.2 percent from deep on nearly 10 attempts per game. Last year’s midseason acquisition Norm Powell is also putting up 18 a night on even better efficiency, and perpetual breakout candidate Anfernee Simons finally seems to be breaking out, averaging 14.4 points on 52/45/100 splits.

Those three non-Dame Blazers helped Portland to a strong win against the Pacers last night, their first in four games after dropping three straight on the road against the Hornets, Sixer and Cavs.

All three of those teams have been quite good this season, so it’s not like they should be too hard on themselves for the poor stretch, but this is also a squad that has gone just 3-6 against the spread, including four straight dropped covers. Now they’re favored at home against a Lakers team that is struggling every bit as much as they are.

LA is 5-4 but just 2-7 against the spread, thanks to two too-close-for-comfort wins against the dreadful Rockets and two outright losses against the allegedly tanking Thunder. They do not have anything close to a quality win this season, and with LeBron James out, there’s no immediate help on the horizon.

This line seems arbitrarily deflated thanks to national awareness of Lillard’s struggles, but Portland is just a far better team at the moment. They’re also home, where they’re 4-1 on the year.

Take the gift and go with the Blazers. Even if Dame doesn’t break out, it’s the safest bet on the board.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers Pick

Miami Heat vs. Utah Jazz

Miami Heat vs. Utah Jazz Prediction

Heat vs. Jazz odds

Tough to talk about this early Game of the Year candidate without knowing the status of Donovan Mitchell. The line seems to imply that Mitchell will play even though he missed Utah’s most recent game – a convincing win in Atlanta against the struggling Hawks – and is listed as day to day with a sprained ankle.

Miami, meanwhile, is coming off one of the more confounding performances of any NBA team this season, laying a complete egg against the previously dysfunctional and discombobulated Celtics at home after they had started 6-1 with by far the league’s best net rating.

#HeatCulture may be a punchline amongst rival fan bases but evidence shows that it is a real thing. Throw any stats out the window here; Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler & Co won’t allow a second straight dud, especially against the team sitting atop the opposing conference, whether Mitchell plays or not.

Don’t let the Boston dud throw you off Miami’s scent. They’re for real, and while this should be close, if there’s any team that can neutralize Utah’s second-ranked offense, it’s the Heat.

Miami Heat vs. Utah Jazz Pick

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insightpicks

Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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