NBA Tips: Lillard the leader in Portland

Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard will be key for Portland tonight
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Another busy night of NBA action with 14 games being played as the season kicks in to gear. Ben Steele previews three of the best games.

"Lillard, a four-time All Star, is the undisputed leader of his team, averaging 27 points a game on 44% shooting this season and will be heavy favourite to top score tonight."

Spencer steps up in Kyrie's abscence

Brooklyn Nets @ Boston Celtics
Thursday 00:10 GMT

Tonight's game should have seen the return of Kyrie Irving to Boston as the Celtics host his new side, the Brooklyn Nets, but a shoulder injury has shelved that storyline for the time being. Boston are heavy favourites to win the game but it is a Brooklyn man who provides the value tonight. In Irving's absence, Spencer Dinwiddie has been exceptional at the point guard position and has sparked a four game winning streak for his side.

In the six games that Irving has missed, Dinwiddie has averaged 24.6 points and 6.6 assists as he has become the central figure of the team. With the Celtics boasting a balanced offensive unit who like to spread the ball around, and the Nets lacking an outright scoring threat I think that the Brooklyn's guard is a good bet to be the top scorer in the game.

Utah set to be thrown to the Wolves

Minnesota Timberwolves @ San Antonio Spurs
Thursday 01:40 GMT

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been inconsistent this season, but they have been much better at home than on the road and will view tonight's game with the San Antonio Spurs as a place to kickstart their year. With Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins both back in the lineup and playing well a game against a Spurs side who are 1-9 across their last 10 games looks like the perfect recipe for success. Guards Demar Derozen and Wiggins will go head to head in what could be the crucial matchup, but Wiggins certainly has more support around him.

The Wolves made light work of San Antonio earlier in the season, in a 129-114 win, and with a number of men scoring well they'll expect to repeat that feat. San Antonio are yet to beat a team with a winning record this term and I don't think that is changing tonight.

Lillard the difference in Portland

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers
Thursday 03:10 GMT

Carmelo Anthony makes his home debut for the Portland Trail Blazers tonight as his former side, the Oklahoma City Thunder roll in to town. Anthony may draw some of the focus but it his teammate Damian Lillard who looks set to shine. Lillard, a four-time All Star, is the undisputed leader of his team, averaging 27 points a game on 44% shooting this season and will be heavy favourite to top score tonight.

The two Western Conference sides have both won six games each, and have struggled to start the season, but there have been flashes from both to suggest tonight could be a good game. Lillard had a career high 60 points against Brooklyn earlier this month and Thunder boast an eye-catching 127-119 win over the 11-6 Philadelphia 76ers, so both teams will be looking to move forward tonight. I see home advantage being enough to drag Portland over the line tonight, with Lillard the star.

Ben Steele NBA: P/L

Staked: 19 pts
Returned: 20 pts
P/L: +1 pts

Ben Steele,

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