The first day of May saw just one NBA playoff game on the schedule – blame the TV networks – and it was a pretty significant loss for bettors.
The Portland Trail Blazers were 4-point underdogs for Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, and the Blazers pulled off the rather ugly 97-90 victory to even the series at 1-1. It was Portland’s first win in Denver since 2016; the Nuggets had the NBA’s best home record in the regular season.
Portland shot just 42.4 percent and made only nine three-pointers (rare these days for a team to win hitting single digits three-pointers) but held Denver to 34.7 percent shooting and 6-for-29 from deep. The Blazers also outscored the Nuggets 10-2 in points off turnovers – which basically matched the margin of victory. Not a coincidence. Portland was the more aggressive team and played much better defense against Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic.
Damian Lillard had his worst game of the playoffs in shooting only 5-for-17 and 1-for-7 from deep for 14 points. However, CJ McCollum stepped up with 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists. He was a team-best plus-11. Enes Kanter had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Al-Farouq Aminu 11 points and 10 rebounds.
That’s all fine. The difference, though, was the bench. The Portland reserves, not exactly the best group in the NBA (especially now that Kanter is starting), combined for 32 points on 50 percent shooting and 14 rebounds. Rodney Hood had 15 of those points and Zach Collins had 10 points and six boards.
At SBR, there was nearly a 57 percent lean on the Nuggets at -4 and on Denver at -180 on the moneyline. The total was set at 219.5 and obviously landed WAY under. About 53 percent of wagers were on the over. So, overall a major loss for bettors.
It was Denver’s second home loss of these playoffs. Jokic had 16 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists but was the only Nuggets starter with a plus rating at plus-2. In fact, the only other Nuggets player with a plus rating was Monte Morris at plus-2 in 17 minutes off the bench. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris were a combined 10-for-30 and 2-for-13 from deep. Torrey Craig suffered a broken nose during the game but would return and play with a facemask. The lone bright spot was outrebounding the Blazers 58-47.
“If you think about the four losses we’ve had in the postseason, we’re shooting 32 percent from three in our losses,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said after the game. “Not to oversimplify it, but it’s a make or miss league. We couldn’t make a shot.”
For Friday’s Game 2, the Blazers opened as 4.5-point home favorites at BetOnline. They are now the -150 series favorites with the Nuggets at +130.