"Road Warriors" and "Protect the house" are two very cliché sports statements for a reason. The lackluster Portland Trail Blazers travel to the dominant home of the Golden State Warriors in tonight's prime-time battle. In this forecast, let's dive into the Blazers vs. Warriors matchup and determine the best bet for this Friday Night NBA prediction.
Friday Night NBA pick: Blazers vs. Warriors Prediction
Golden State is far and away the best team in the NBA this season, and they're doing it all without superstar Klay Thompson. The Warriors have an explosive offense and shut down opposing teams on the defensive end better than 90% of the teams in the league.
Portland is an anomaly of sorts this season. They defend home better than any team in the league not named the Warriors, yet they are the third-worst road team in the NBA. The massive disparity between the Blazers' road woes and the Warriors' impenetrable home fortress makes for a straightforward pick in this game.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Portland owns a stout 9-1 home record this season, going 7-3 against the spread at the house. On the road, however, the Blazers are a measly 1-8 overall while also going 1-8 against the spread. There's a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with this Portland team. While at home, the Blazers own a 117.2 offensive net rating while posting a 105.6 defensive rating. When they head to enemy territory, those numbers flip, as Portland plummets to a 106.3 offensive and a 117.0 defensive rating.
The disparity comes as a surprise, as the Blazers enter this game with a top 10 offense overall. Portland owns the 5th best effective field goal percentage (eFG%), a top 10 offensive rebound percentage, and limits their turnovers at a top 10 rate. Much of their success, of course, comes from the backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The Blazers' superstar duo contributes around 36-40% of the offensive firepower while Norman Powell, Anfernee Simons, and Jusuf Nurkic make up the supporting cast.
Defensively, the Blazers have some apparent discrepancies. They are bottom five at eFG%, and they will be facing the No. 1 offensive eFG% team in the league in the Warriors. Portland could also improve their defensive turnover rate and allow their offense more opportunities to put points on the board. They are elite at defensive rebounding and preventing opposing teams from getting to the free-throw line. However, the Warriors are elite in both those offensive categories as well.
Snatch the Crown Back
Golden State was dominant, then they were not, and now they're back to their old selves. Steph Curry has dominated the MVP votes thus far for a reason. His 59.8% eFG ranks second in the league for shooting guards, and his NBA efficiency ranks third only behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant. Once Thompson joins these Warriors, it will be hard to see why they won't stroll into the Western Conference Finals and compete for another championship.
As mentioned previously, Golden State owns the best eFG% in the league, and they rank top 10 in both free throw rate and offensive rebounding. If there is one area of improvement the Warriors could work on, it would be ball security, as they are one of the worst five teams in the league at preventing turnovers. Everything else about this offense screams elite, and when you realize their offensive rating improves by 3.3 points and their defensive rating improves by 3.9 points while at the house, it makes sense why this team is so hard to beat at home.
Defensively, this is as good as it gets. Golden State is the third-best at defensive eFG%, 5th best at turnover rate, No.1 overall at defensive rebounding, and 13th at free throw rate. Everything you would want out of a top defensive unit is on full display by these Warriors. Although the Blazers have an elite offense themselves, they are going against the best defense in the league by a landslide.
Blazers vs. Warriors prediction and pick
Even if the Blazers' offense and Warriors' defense were an even wash, the Warriors have a clear advantage when they are on offense, and the Blazers have to play defense. Add in the vast disparity between how Portland performs on the road versus at home, and this pick comes as a straightforward analysis. I'll gladly lay the -6 points on the Warriors at the FanDuel Sportsbook and watch a relatively comfortable victory by the best team in the league this season.