The Portland Trail Blazers, probably the biggest surprise team in the NBA this season, play their final home game before the All-Star break in what could be a potential playoff preview against the top team in the Western Conference in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. Portland opened as a 1-point favorite on NBA odds with a total of 211.5 for sports bettors.
That Durant Guy Is Good
Oklahoma City (31-22 ATS, 27-26 O/U at sportsbooks) has started February 3-2 with Kevin Durant continuing to light it up. The NBA's scoring leader and expected MVP had 41 points in Sunday's 112-100 home win over the Knicks. Durant no doubt was a little juiced up to face off against Carmelo Anthony as Melo ended Durant's three-season reign as the scoring champion last season. Durant added 10 rebounds and nine assists on Sunday while Anthony struggled by shooting only 5-for-19 from the field for 15 points.
It's a shame Durant couldn't get that one more assist as their hasn't been a 40-10-10 triple-double since LeBron James in 2010 while still with Cleveland. It was Durant's seventh game this season with at least 40 points and fourth in the past 13 -- Kevin Love is second with three 40-point games all season. Durant now has 34 career 40-point games, which is the fourth-most of any player under 26 since the merger. To no surprise, Michael Jordan has the most with 74.
Portland (28-23 ATS, 32-18-1 O/U at sportsbooks), the NBA's highest-scoring team (it hasn't led the league in offense since the 1986-87 season), enters off a 117-110 victory at Minnesota on Saturday. LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and nine assists against a Wolves team missing both Love and Nikola Pekovic down low. Rookie C.J. McCollum had the best game of his young career with 19 points for the Blazers.
McCollum saw a huge uptick in minutes because Blazers backup guard Mo Williams, generally the first guy off the bench, missed a second straight game due to family reasons. It's not clear as of this writing if Williams will be back in time for this game. It seems likely the team will let him be with his family through the All-Star break as Williams' sister is seriously ill.
Normally the All-Star break is just that: a break for players. That won't be the case for Portland point guard Damian Lillard. He's competing in just about everything possible on All-Star Weekend: the Rising Stars Game, Skills Challenge, 3-point and dunk contests and the All-Star Game.
This is the final regular-season matchup with Portland leading 2-1. On Dec. 4 in Portland, the Blazers were 2.5-point favorites for sports bettors and won 111-104. Aldridge was a beast with 38 points and 13 rebounds as Portland ended OKC's eight-game winning streak. It ended the Blazers' seven-game skid against the Thunder. Durant led Oklahoma City with 33 while Russell Westbrook, who appears on track to return from injury right after the break, had 21.
On New Year's Eve in Oklahoma City, the Thunder were 6-point favorites on NBA odds and lost 98-94 to Portland. Aldridge had 25 points and 14 rebounds as the Blazers rallied from a 16-point deficit. Lillard hit the clinching free throws with 2.1 seconds left. Durant had 37 points but just one in the fourth quarter as he was hounded by Nicolas Batum. Westbrook missed that one.
Finally, on Jan. 21 in OKC the Thunder were 6.5-point favorites for sports bettors and won 105-97 behind 46 from Durant. That was game eight of Durant's 12-game streak of at least 30. Durant scored 11 of those points in the final 3:23 as the Thunder rallied. Westbrook missed that as well. Aldridge had 29 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Blazers. Consider a player prop wager on Aldridge as he's averaging 30.7 points and 14.3 boards against OKC this season.
NBA free pick: Oklahoma City +1. It has covered seven of the past eight against teams with a winning record. Portland hates Tuesdays, covering just once of its past 12 on the day. Take the over in your NBA picks. In eight of the last 10 meetings, at least one team in this series has scored 100-plus points.