Thunder Hold Big Value As Underdogs In Portland

Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 13:
25-28-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 34-21 Totals

Oklahoma City (49-33 SU, 42-40 ATS) at Portland (53-29 SU, 45-36-1 ATS)

Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Free NBA Pick: Thunder ATS

Recommended Sportsbook: Pinnacle

Is it safe to start betting against the spread again? The market for regular-season NBA picks has gotten pretty tight in recent years – unless you bet against the total. But now that the playoffs are here, those so-called “recreational bettors’ are back on the scene, throwing their hard-earned nickles and dimes at their favorite teams and giving us the profit margin we need to bet the spread with confidence.

In theory. It’s only the first round, so we expect less of that “dead money’ than we’ll see as we get deeper into the playoffs. And as always, it depends which teams are playing. In this case, it’s the No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers and the No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder, and yes, it looks like we’ve got a live one on our hands here. The NBA odds at press time have Portland laying three points at home for Sunday’s opener, down from –4 at the open; let’s grab some of that OKC goodness while it’s still a bargain.

Four Out Of Four Ain’t Bad

In case you haven’t checked out our look at the series price yet, make sure you do, because it sets the tone for Game 1. The projections at FiveThirtyEight for this game are like a microcosm of the whole series; they have Sunday’s matchup as a pick’em, which means we’re still getting plenty of value on Oklahoma City at +3. In theory.

The sharps are obviously on board. According to the early consensus reports, two-thirds of bettors are on the Thunder for Game 1. It’s hard to argue against that; Oklahoma City swept the regular-season series 4-0 SU and ATS, and all four of those games were before Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (plus-5.1 BPM) was lost for the year with a broken leg. Get well soon, big guy.

An Arm And A Leg

Speaking of gruesome leg injuries, Paul George (plus-5.5 BPM). We didn’t think he’d ever be the same after he broke his leg five years ago playing for Team USA, and indeed, the next three seasons saw George producing less and less on the court. Then he signed that fat contract to stay in Oklahoma City, and I’ll be damned if George didn’t just have the best season of this career thus far.

One problem: George is still trying to shake off that nagging shoulder injury from earlier this year – actually, both shoulders. He’s officially day-to-day for Game 1, and there’s a chance George won’t suit up, although it would be quite a shock if he doesn’t. You might want to keep your bet size small for this game, just in case. Consider it a shock absorber.

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