Trail Blazers vs. Cavaliers Betting Preview: Bet Portland in the 4th Quarter

Action Network contributor Andrew O'Connor-Watts breaks down how to bet Wednesday's matchup between the Trail Blazers and Cavaliers.

Trail Blazers vs. Cavaliers Odds

Trail Blazers Odds +8
Cavaliers Odds -8
Over/Under 214.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers will take on Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Blazers will be without All-Star point guard Damian Lillard who will miss his second consecutive game due to a right calf strain — the same injury that sidelined him for five games last month.

The Cavaliers have come back to earth since their 8-1 start to the season, but they’re still playing great on both sides of the ball and look poised to make a deep playoff run next spring.

Can the shorthanded Blazers keep up with the well-rounded Cavs?

Trail Blazers Treading Water Without Damian Lillard

The NBA season is long, and depth is key in a league where injuries can derail a team’s regular season. Portland has solved some depth issues since previous seasons, which is a big reason they’ve been competitive this season, even without Lillard.

In Lillard’s absence, the Blazers have a 3-3 record, but are 4-1-1 ATS, with four of those six games coming on the road, which is the situation they are in tonight.

Undoubtedly, the Blazers are a much better team with Lillard, but the reason they can still keep up is because of their defense without him.

According NBA Advanced Stats, in the stretch of games where Lillard was absent — from Oct. 27 to Nov. 6 — Portland’s offense saw a dip in efficiency, going from a 111.7 Offensive Rating to 107.7. However, their 11th-ranked Defensive Rating (110.6), improved to 108.9 in that span, which would be good enough for eighth in the league.

That said, their drop-off in offense doesn’t quite outweigh the boost in defense, which is why Lillard’s presence is so valuable. Their Net Rating goes from +1.1 to -1.2 without the him.

The defensive woes are not all on Dame. Anfernee Simons is also a reason for their lack of defense at times, but in these games without Lillard, it means there’s one less negative defender that teams can exploit on the perimeter.

Another thing that’s helped the Blazers this season is their ability to stay in games and consistently make runs in the fourth quarter.

They have the second-best Net Rating in the fourth quarter (11.9) behind only the New Orleans Pelicans (17.8) who are absolutely dominant. Their ATS record is also second in the league at 13-4 (7-2 on the road).

Cavaliers’ Shooting Strength Give Them a Slight Edge

The Cavaliers have a deeper team, but a more injury concerns coming into tonight’s matchup.

Kevin Love is once again questionable with the same thumb injury that kept him out of Monday’s contest against the Atlanta Hawks, while Caris LeVert remains out through Thanksgiving.

Dean Wade is also on the injury report, but is listed as probable, which is good for the Cavs as Wade should take the bulk of Love’s minutes if he’s not able to suit up tomorrow.

Despite the fact that you may have never heard of Wade — maybe you heard someone say his name and thought they were talking about D-Wade — he actually has the second-best differential on the Cavaliers at +15.3, according to Cleaning the Glass, and is contributing on both ends of the floor.

Cleveland is playing well on both ends of the floor, but isn’t lighting the world on fire since their 8-1 start to the season. Coming into tonight’s matchup, they’re unequivocally the stronger team, but they don’t necessarily matchup well enough to exploit the Blazers’ weaknesses.

The Cavs are elite from 3-point land (40.2%) and the Blazers are just below league-average at defending, allowing opponents to shoot 36.4%, but the Blazers are also elite from beyond the arc (38.6%) while the Cavs are just as mediocre with their 3-point defense (36.5%).

They’re currently on a three-game winning streak after defeating the Hawks, Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets at home, but tonight’s game against the Blazers closes out a four-game homestand for the Cavs, after which they travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Friday.

This could be look-ahead spot for Cleveland after a 113-98 loss to Milwaukee a week ago.

Trail Blazers-Cavaliers Pick

Because of the offensive dip and defensive boost Portland gets when Lillard doesn’t play, I will look for an under play (it’s 4-2 in games without him), but I find it more difficult to incorporate a players’ impact on the total when handicapping. I’ll look to put a half unit on the under 217.5, but I don’t like it any lower than 217.

In terms of the side, this spot for the Cavs and the relatively high line of -8 make me lean towards the Blazers, but I make this game Blazers +8 with Lillard out, and that’s just not enough for me to pull the trigger. I do like them in the fourth quarter given their success this season in the final frame, so I’ll be on the Blazers to cover the fourth quarter spread as short underdogs.

Pick: Blazers +1.5 4Q (-118)