Jordan’s NBA Picks: 66-45, Playoffs 12-7
Oklahoma City (50-36 SU & 43-43 ATS) at Portland (56-30 SU & 48-38 ATS)
Tuesday, 10:30 PM EST, TNT
Free NBA Pick: OVER 1Q
Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
While the Thunder have at times this series and season shown they can play defense, that has not been the case in this particular series. Portland, on the other hand, has held the Thunder to less than 100 points in three of the four games in this series.
Thunder Offensive Bounce Back
The Thunder shot about as poorly as one can shoot in Game 4 of this series. Their backcourt was 14-for-49 overall and 7-for-23 from beyond the arc. The Blazers’ defense is once again one of the reasons for this, but there should be some course correction in Game 5 with the Thunder’s backs against the wall.
On the road and facing elimination, I think OKC comes out and attacks the basket early and often. NO more will they run the offense through Paul George. It’s Russell Westbrook’s show tonight and I don’t think there is any other way the Thunder can win.
With Westbrook getting to the rim and not settling for outside shots, the Thunder can keep this game close enough to cover. Whether they will or not is another question, but I do think it will lead to more points early in the game for the Thunder.
The Sharp Pick
The Thunder have been ice cold in the first halves of this series as well as the third quarter. The only reason they have stuck around this long has been their fourth quarter offense, which secured them their only win in this series.
However, during the regular season, the Thunder were one of the faster first quarter teams in the league, playing at a pace of nearly 106 in the first 12 minutes. That has fallen off in this series with the Blazers dictating pace very well.
That will change though if Westbrook is told to attack the rim at every possession. Plenty of free throws means plenty of scoring with the clock stopped. Even if it settles down as the game goes on, the Thunder should be able to put together more than 25 points in the first quarter if they are getting some calls at the rim.
It’s a little risky to assume they will get calls on the road, but the NBA wants a longer series, so the refs will do their part early in the game at least. With the Blazers averaging 114.1 points per 100 possessions in the first quarters of this series, I could see a first quarter where even if the Thunder rack up 26 or 27 first quarter points, the Blazers may be at 30 through the first 12 minutes at home.
First Quarter Score Prediction: Thunder 28 – Blazers 29