Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers | NBA Playoffs Betting Tips and Predictions
The Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder will both be looking for the same thing in the postseason. Hopes were high for both last year, and they ended up losing in the first round. Oklahoma City dominated Portland during the regular season; will they continue to dominate them in the postseason?
Spread: Portland by 3
Money Line: Thunder +125; Trail Blazers -145
*Odds via BetOnline.ag
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder took a big chance in trading for Paul George knowing all along that he wanted to go to Los Angeles and could be with them for just one year. But he appeared to like what he saw in Oklahoma City enough to sign with the Thunder and stick around for a few years. So, of course, that meant the Thunder would be entering the season with a few more expectations placed upon them. Fans wouldn’t just hope their team could make it the playoffs; they expected to get there. With George on the roster, they expected the team not to fall apart when Russell Westbrook left the game. But can they win a playoff series for the first time since Kevin Durant wore a Thunder uniform? It will take a complete effort by the Thunder, but will George’s shoulder be ready to go in time and can he last against a tough Portland defense? The answer to that question will determine whether the Thunder or the Trail Blazers move on to the next round.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have managed to be one of the better teams in the NBA without garnering a whole lot of attention from the fans and media. However, with the Warriors, Nuggets, and Rockets hogging all the glory in the Western Conference, they often got skipped when people talked about contenders. Injuries to C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic helped keep people from noticing how good they were. Despite losing two of their better players, they didn’t really seem to miss a beat. McCollum returned at the end of the regular season, but over the last month, they were one of the top offenses in the NBA (117.2 points/game). However, to win, they need to do more than just maintain their current level of offensive play. They have to play better defense against George and Westbrook. They can’t let George average 38 points a game as he did in the regular season. They need to keep Westbrook from averaging close to a triple-double, too (he averaged 29.5 points, 8.8 assists, and ten rebounds a game against Portland in the regular season).
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers Head-to-Head
Oklahoma City dominated Portland with a four-game sweep during their regular season series. The first one was close and saw the Trail Blazers lose by two. But the other three were all won by eight or nine points. From a historical perspective, the Thunder lead the Trail Blazers in their all-time regular-season series, 120-116. However, in the 16 postseason games between the two, they are tied with eight wins apiece. The last time they played in the playoffs was the first round in 1991; Portland won, 3-2.
Odds and Predictions
Portland has managed to do something every team wants to do, but very few actually do it. They have continued to play well despite getting hit hard with injuries. They will be in even better shape going forward depending on how quickly McCollum gets back up to speed. However, with or without McCollum, they are going to have one heck of a challenge on their hands dealing with the Thunder, one of those rare teams that is really good on both ends of the court (offense– 114.5 points/game, 7th in the NBA; defense—106.4 rating, 4th in the NBA). But the Thunder are dependent on George and Westbrook. To beat the Thunder, Portland must slow them down or pray that they have an off night. Game One will hinge on two things: does Paul George play, and can Portland perform well enough on defense to slow down the Thunder’s dangerous twosome? If George doesn’t play, take Portland (-145); if he does, take the Thunder (+125). Either way, the points are not going to help; the margin of victory will probably be 8-10 points. As for the over/under (225), take the over.
Expert Betting Tip
It depends on George and his availability. If he can play, stick with the Thunder. If he can’t, go with Portland.