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Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, center, drives to the rim against Denverin the NBA Playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, center, drives to the rim against Denverin the NBA Playoffs.|David Zalubowski | Associated Press
NBA

NBA Saturday: Greg Frank picks the 76ers vs Trail Blazers -- with Embiid sitting, expect a Lillard-fueled shootout

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

2-2 Friday night, 12-7 overall.

Sixers (+1.5) @ Trail Blazers (223.5)

Pick: Trail Blazers -1.5

The Sixers begin a west-coast trip on Saturday night as the only undefeated team left in the NBA. You can expect that to change by night’s end. We mentioned in our Sixers-Hawks handicap earlier this week how highly-skilled offensive point guards have given the Sixers all sorts of problems the last few seasons. With that in mind, holding Trae Young to 7-20 from the field was probably a victory for Philadelphia, although Young still managed to put up 25 points and the Sixers did not cover in a 105-103 victory. Expect at least 35 big ones from Damian Lillard tonight in Portland and with Joel Embiid serving the first game of his two-game suspension, I wouldn’t feel great about the Sixers ability to keep up. Higher-scoring games are going to be the way to beat the Sixers this year and it’s a lot easier to see this game becoming a shootout with Philly’s best defender not in the lineup. Portland is also a sneaky good home court advantage as only Philadelphia and Indiana have covered the spread at home at a better clip than the Trail Blazers since the start of the 2016-17 season. It’s not a good spot for the Sixers tonight at all and only needing to lay 1.5 to back Portland feels cheap, but we won’t complain.

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