Toronto Raptors vs Portland Trail Blazers Prediction: No Dame, No Problem?

The Blazers are quietly saving their season and get a nice opportunity today, while New York has a must win game against the Clippers.
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Toronto Raptors vs Portland Trail Blazers Prediction: No Dame, No Problem?

Toronto Raptors vs Portland Trail Blazers

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This season has not gone as expected for the Portland Trail Blazers. With a new coach who was supposed to sure up their defensive shortcomings, Portland was expected to at least contend for one of the West's six playoff spots, if not be in the running for a top-four seed.

After a 10-8 start, while things didn't look exactly like some anticipated, there was certainly reason for hope. It was also short-lived. The Blazers won just three of their next 17 games, five of which Damian Lillard missed with a core injury that eventually knocked him out for good following Portland's New Year's Eve loss to the Lakers.

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With a 13-22 record at the time and a bottom-five net rating, the Blazers seemed to be on their way to a classic tank over the rest of their season. That's when a funny thing happened: Portland discovered an identity. Perhaps freed from the lingering clouds of Dame's future plans and despite a somewhat difficult schedule, the Blazers have a 6-4 record in their last 10 games.

They also have a new engine. Starting with a 43-point outing in their first game of the new year, Anfernee Simons has averaged 25 points and seven assists over this stretch, making him just one of five players to reach those benchmarks since January first. The one game he missed doubled as Portland's only bad loss since the calendar turned - a 32-point drubbing in Denver - but they've otherwise outscored their opponents by about a point per game.

This is the track record they bring into Toronto for the final game of their East Coast swing. The Raptors have been scuffling a bit, with four losses in their last six games, and although they are 10-7 against the spread as a home favorite this season, they've only been favored by this many points three times in their own building.

No Dame might not feel like no problem for Portland, but the evidence tells a different story. Take the points on the road.

Toronto Raptors vs Portland Trail Blazers Line Movement

Toronto Raptors vs Portland Trail Blazers Pick

New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Clippers

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Mr. Hyde is back at MSG.

Right after we thought the Knicks had figured some things out with eight wins in 11 games, they've lost three games in a row at home, all against teams they should have been able to beat. Now New York is back outside a play-in spot looking in, with far more questions than answers down the stretch of this season. What the heck happened to Julius Randle, and why does he look like a shell of the player who made All-NBA last season? Why does the fit with Kemba Walker continue to be so clunky? Should this team be buyers or sellers at the deadline?

And now an extra one for Sunday's game: Will we see Cam Reddish in action? The recent trade acquisition from the Atlanta Hawks has been all but cleared for action by head coach Tom Thibodeau, yet Thibs was noncommittal about Cam's chances of cracking the rotation.

They don't have much to lose by switching things up. Reddish wasn't great for the Hawks this year, but he's deadly from the corners and can provide some much needed off-the-bounce juice on offense, plus solid length on the defensive end. It's unclear at whose expense Reddish will get his minutes, but whoever it ends up being won't be happy.

Adding to the issues for the Knicks is today's opponent: a feisty Clipper team that continues to defy expectations without their best players. They have covered three games in a row, including an outright win against Joel Embiid and the Sixers two nights ago. Even so, New York is a home favorite. Maybe they end up winning the game, because this team has been nothing if not unpredictable, but it's impossible to have any confidence in the home team here. Stay away from this game, but take the points on the road if anything.

New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Clippers Line Movement

New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Clippers 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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