The NBA has finalized a 22-team field that is set to continue playing this season after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the season to a halt, and the Portland Trail Blazers will be in the mix. The regular season is set to resume on July 31, and Portland is 3 1⁄2 games back from the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference. If the Trail Blazers stay within four games of the Grizzlies, they can earn a play-in series and punch their ticket to the playoffs.
The Trail Blazers’ production was hindered by injuries this season, but they’re about to get a big boost from some players who have improved their health during the long break caused by the pandemic. Damian Lillard, who sat out of All-Star Weekend because of a groin strain, will have had four months to recover by the time basketball returns after playing four games in March. Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t played all season because of a leg fracture he suffered in 2018-19, but is now set to return and join Hassan Whiteside to form a physically imposing front court.
While Lillard and Nurkic will be key pieces to the Trail Blazers’ starting lineup, bench help will be important too — especially since Rodney Hood is out for the year with a torn Achilles. Zach Collins hasn’t played since he suffered a shoulder injury in October and should re-join the team in July. He should be able to provide support in the post.
Portland Trail Blazers Championship odds
Portland was +20000 on DraftKings SportsBook on May 13 but has seen its odds jump to +17000 since the new format was announced. Its odds to make the playoffs are +450 while its odds to miss out clock in at -835.
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