Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 18: 26-29-1 ATS, 0-5 ML (minus-10.35 units), 35-22-1 Totals
Portland (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) at Oklahoma City (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS)
Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Free NBA Pick: Over
Recommended Sportsbook: Bookmaker
Well, it seems the Oklahoma City Thunder are having some issues. They were our series pick for their first-round matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, and they were our ATS pick for Game 1 last Sunday. At least one of those bets is still live; the Thunder lost each of the first two games as small road dogs on the NBA odds board. Harrumph.
Will they bounce back in Oklahoma City this Friday night? Maybe, but as 7.5-point favorites as we go to press, there’s no value betting on the Thunder in this matchup – not according to the projections at FiveThirtyEight, which have OKC at –7. That also doesn’t leave us any profit margin on the Trail Blazers, even if they’re available at +8 for smart shoppers. So it’s the total again, folks.
Follow The Money
The first two games in Portland went ‘under’ the posted total by a decent chunk, but we’re willing to throw a small amount on the ‘over’ for our NBA picks. And we’re doing it mostly because that’s what the sharps appear to be doing. According to the consensus reports (small sample size alert), 100 percent of early bettors are taking the ‘over’ in this matchup, pushing the total up from 221.5 points to as high as 222.5 at some locations.
Not to worry – at press time, you can still get the total at 221.5 if you shop around, which we always recommend here at the home office. That’s down three points from the first two games at the Rose Garden. Hey, at least we have something to work with here. The splits aren’t going to help us much; the Thunder have the ‘over’ at 22-19 this year playing at home, while the Blazers have the ‘under’ at 21-19-1 on the road. Harrumph again.
Regress, I’ve Had A Few
How about the season series between these two teams? Harrumphs all around; they split the total 2-2, including 1-1 at each venue. But let’s give the Thunder an opportunity to regress to the mean. They hit just five of their 33 trey attempts in Game 1, then shot 5-of-28 in Game 2. That’s not normal – especially when it’s Damian Lillard (minus-1.1 DBPM) and CJ McCollum (minus-1.9 DBPM) in Portland’s backcourt.
On the flip side, the Trail Blazers had much more success from the perimeter in the first two games, but nothing beyond the pale at 11-of-25 (44.0 percent) and 13-of-32 (40.6 percent). We’re counting on the Zombie Sonics to hit a lot more threes Friday night, and Portland to come close to what they’ve already been doing. It’s worth a small bet at this lowered total – which would have turned one of those regular-season ‘unders’ into an ‘over’ had it been in play.