Freerolling With The Blazers Over Back-To-Back OKC

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 8:32 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2019 8:32 PM UTC

The Oklahoma City Thunder are struggling, but are the NBA odds leaning too far towards the Portland Trail Blazers for Thursday’s matchup?

Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Mar. 5:
17-15-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 22-9 Totals

Oklahoma City (39-25 SU, 33-31 ATS) at Portland (39-25 SU, 37-27 ATS)

Thursday, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Free NBA Pick: Trail Blazers ATS
Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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This is a tight spot. On the surface, Thursday’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers looks like an easy NBA pick; the Thunder have dropped their last eight games ATS, while the Blazers are 6-2 SU and 7-1 ATS in their last eight. What’s not to love about Portland?

How about those 3.5 points they’re laying on the NBA odds board at press time. According to the hoop nerds at FiveThirtyEight, the Trail Blazers project as 2-point home faves, so it looks like we’ll be paying a premium if we bet on Portland. But it might be worth it. One of these teams also has to play Friday night, and it’s not the Blazers.

Back-to-Back Is A Bad-Ass Fact

When we last checked in on OKC, they were getting their giblets frozen in Minneapolis. The first game of their four-game road swing went just like we planned it: Thunder 120, Timberwolves (+2) 131. And that was with Paul George (plus-6.0 BPM) back in the lineup after a three-game absence. The rust was evident, as George shot 8-for-25 and posted a minus-10 on the day.

George will presumably be in more of a groove come Thursday. But this is where things get interesting: Oklahoma City will be at Staples Center on Friday to play the Los Angeles Clippers. This being a back-to-back situation for the Thunder, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them hand out some “load management” passes – maybe even to George. That possibility encourages us to stick with Portland, who have Friday off.

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If you stare at the TV long enough, you'd believe Russell Westbrook is back playing with Norris Cole, Semaj Christon, Kyle Singler & Josh Huestis.

— Carson Cunningham (@KOCOCarson) 6 de março de 2019
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Triple-Double Trouble

We’re definitely not going to be recommending the total for this particular contest. Portland have been driving the ‘over’ to the pay window this year at 34-29-1, including 17-14-1 at the former Rose Garden. That’s what they do; Damian Lillard (plus-6.1 OBPM, minus-1.2 DBPM) is at the wheel, and CJ McCollum (plus-1.8 OBPM, minus-1.9 DBPM) is riding shotgun. There’s plenty of beef in the frontcourt to help balance things out, but this is still an offense-first club.

As for the Thunder, they’ve split the totals down the middle at 32-32, but that includes a 19-14 road record for the ‘under.’ And that was the right pick in five of their last six games overall. The arrival of Markieff Morris (minus-3.0 OBPM, minus-1.4 DBPM in seven games) has contributed to their malaise, but mostly, it’s about Russell Westbrook (plus-1.9 OBPM, plus-4.1 DBPM) and his constant string of inefficient triple-doubles. Westbrook’s 42.4-percent rate on field goals is his worst since his sophomore year in 2009-10. As long as he’s struggling, the Thunder should be worth fading – but only for a small sum this time, given the odds and the projections.

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