NBA: Aldridge to lead by example against Miami
Portland are on an incredible run and they won't deviate when the middling Miami Heat come to town
Many felt at the start of this season, with many other teams only getting better in the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers would be left by the wayside. They have some All-Star level players but did they have the depth to survive such competition? Well, so far, they've been more than surviving.
The Blazers have a 27-8 record, led by their power forward LaMarcus Aldridge who's playing at an elite level yet again. He's averaging 23 points per game, 10.6 rebounds and just over a block a game, he's a real handful that a small team like Miami Heat will struggle to deal with. Back the Blazers to win this one by the -9.5 handicap at 23/20 and to win both halves at 1/2, they are too good on both ends of the field for the Heat to deal with.
Earlier the evening, the Charlotte Hornets will head north to take on the high-flying Toronto Raptors. The Hornets haven't raised their game like many expected in the off-season, their high-profile acquisitions haven't worked out and they face an uphill battle to make the playoffs even at this stage.
The Raptors, on the other hand, have picked up where they left off. They've only grown as a team, as well as getting more bench-depth in the summer and look like a guaranteed top-four team in the Eastern Conference. Look at them to win this one with at the -12 handicap at 9/10; the poor Charlotte offence won't be able to keep up with this exciting Toronto side.
The final game on Thursday will see the struggling New York Knicks trying to stop the slide against the Houston Rockets. It's chaos in New York, they are trading away any pieces and are tempted to shut down a beat-up Carmelo Anthony for a season that already looks lost.
It'll not get any better against a top level Houston team, who could make this embarrassing if they hit their stride. Go for them to win at a -12/5 handicap at 21/20. James Harden and company will be more than willing to heap more misery on a Knicks team that'll go back to the drawing board in the summer.