While the mid-season All Star break is nearly upon us there is still plenty of NBA action taking place before the weekend, with 26 of the league’s 30 teams in action tonight.
Portland v Los Angeles is perhaps the stand-out match of the schedule and backing the Clippers to extend their winning home record over the Blazers is the cornerstone of this home comfort treble.
Add the newly-defensively-sound Nets and the in-form Raptors to dispatch Charlotte and Atlanta respectively and you could more than double your money at odds of better than 5/4.
Toronto (27-24) are approaching All Star weekend in their best pre-break form since the 2009-10 campaign and with the Raptors 9-2 from their last 11 at home head coach Dwane Casey will be confident of a win over the points-shy Hawks (25-25).
Atlanta may be 10-2 from 12 meetings with the Raptors, including a 5-0 run as visitors to the Air Canada Centre, but Mike Budenholzer’s men arrive north of the border having lost four straight.
The Hawks are 5-12 from their last 17 and averaging a miserable 86.5 points per game during their current skid.
A 15-point loss to Chicago last time out shows that the Philips Arena residents are not ready to dent Toronto’s impressive home record.
The Nets (23-26) displayed a new-found defensive stability in their recent 93-81 win over the Saints and Jason Kidd’s men will use this as a foundation to improve their already-impressive home record against the Bobcats (23-29).
Brooklyn held New Orleans to just 28 first half points – their lowest since playing the Lakers in November 2005 – and a continuation of this would stand them in good stead against a Bobcats side averaging less than 95 point per game.
Jason Kidd’s Nets are 10-2 from their last 12 at the Barclays Center and 8-2 in 10 against Charlotte including the last four straight.
Steve Clifford’s side, meanwhile, are 5-9 from 14 on the road, having lost their last four away games by an average of 12 points.
Portland (36-16) are among the Western Conference’s top three sides but could soon be ousted by the Clippers (26-18) should LA maintain their home run over the Blazers.
Terry Stott’s men last beat the Clippers at the Staples Center in October 2010 – with the Californians going 4-0 at home during that time – and with Chris Paul back in the mix an extension of that run looks extremely likely.
LA went 12-6 without Paul after the 28-year-old injured a shoulder in January, but his return has boosted LA ahead of the break.
While his input against Philadelphia last time out was minimal, his presence lifted the Clippers to the extent that they demolished the Sixers 123-78 and with the former New Orleans man getting fitter by the game, Portland – who are 2-5 from seven on the road – look doomed to defeat here.