Pick: Trail Blazers 102-88
For my money, I believe the 2012-13 Trail Blazers were one of the most talented 33-win teams I’ve seen in my time as an NBA fan. Damian Lillard was the only player to average at least 19 points, make 180 3-pointers and shoot at least 45 percent from inside the 3-point line — the only one! Steph Curry didn’t do it. Nor did James Harden or Carmelo Anthony.
Lillard improved in almost every statistical category as the season progressed. He gained comfort with the speed of the game, something he should enter this season with. Nicolas Batum remains one of the most underrated star players in this league: he is essentially Andre Iguodala in his prime and with a lethal jump shot. Thomas Robinson was an under-the-radar offseason addition, a player who could provide some much-needed frontcourt depth.
The Suns aren’t going to be awful, but I don’t think they can keep up on the offensive end with the Trail Blazers after moving six of their seven leading scorers from a season ago. Goran Dragic is a nice point guard who can run an offense and Eric Bledsoe could win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award this season as he finally gets the chance to start, but their inability to consistently score scares me.
I don’t mind a low-scoring backcourt if the frontcourt has the potential to be dominant, but with Miles Plumlee, Markieff Morris, and P.J. Tucker listed as probable starters, I just don’t see this team as a unit that can score much more than 90 points.
The Trailblazers have scored at least 105 points in three consecutive season-openers and have started each of the last four campaigns with a W. On the other hand, the Suns have averaged 87 points per game in losing each of their last three season-openers. Portland’s lack of depth scares me long term, but it shouldn’t have an impact tonight.
2013-14 Record against the spread: 1-1