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NBA Betting Picks – Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Apr/16/2019

The Portland Trail Blazers got one big monkey off their back by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their NBA playoff series.

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The Blazers were swept in the first round in each of the last two years and had dropped 10 straight postseason games overall. Now you could say the pressure is on Russell Westbrook to end his playoff nightmare that has seen first round exits the last two seasons. OKC swept the regular season against its division rival and needs a win on Tuesday to return home with an even slate.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers

Date and Time: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 10:30 p.m. ET

Location: Moda Center, Portland, OR

Opening NBA Odds: Portland -3, O/U 218

Thunder at Trail Blazers TV Coverage: TNT

Odds Analysis

In just another instance of the regular season meaning little when it comes playoff time, the Thunder are looking to knot the playoff series after losing to the Blazers for the first time this season. All four games during the regular year were decided by a single digit with OKC’s margin in the Rose City a total of eight points in two games, an indication that the teams are closely matched. And they were separated by just four games in the final standings, even after OKC’s second-half nosedive cost them a chance at a higher seed.

The Blazers were swept in the first round the last two seasons and had lost 10 straight postseason games overall until finally tasting victory on Sunday. “We know how it feels to win again. New we can just kind of move on from that and stay focused on this series,” Damian Lillard said after scoring a game-high 30 points in the 104-99 victory. The Blazers didn’t play their best on Sunday, yet they still came away with the all-important series opening victory and will attempt to hold serve on Tuesday. At least they won’t be swept this year.

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Thunder

The Thunder rely on their big two of Westbrook and Paul George, and when one of them isn’t right things can go terribly wrong. George missed a few games at the end of the season with a shoulder injury and the ailment played a part in his subpar shooting on Sunday. PG13 scored 26 points with 10 boards, but he made only 8 of 24 shots and was 4 of 15 from three-point range. George stated he is pain-free and it’s a matter of getting his timing back after not shooting a basketball for a few days.

But George wasn’t the only player with accuracy issues on Sunday. As a team the Thunder shot just 39.8 percent and made only 5 of 33 three-pointers. With those numbers offensively, you wouldn’t expect OKC to be hanging around. And they weren’t early, falling behind by 19 points before mounting a stirring comeback. In the end, Westbrook’s 24-10-10 triple-double wasn’t enough, but it does give OKC confidence knowing that they were right there despite the woeful shooting performance.

Trail Blazers

As Dame said, the Blazers can go play basketball now that their long postseason skid is behind them. But there are things that need improvement if Portland is to win a series for the first time in three years. Like OKC, the Blazers had their own issues and shot slightly better at 41.9 percent. It certainly wasn’t an offensive display and the defense on both sides was questionable as the teams missed a bunch of open shots. The Blazers will go as far as the duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum will take them and they combined for 54 points to take Portland to a victory.

CJ and Dame did what they do, but it was the play of Enes Kanter on Sunday that provided the biggest spark. Filling in for Jusuf Nurkic, who was lost for the year with a few games to go in the regular season, Kanter proved to be a solid pickup. However, not many expected him to perform the way he did in Game 1. Kanter hit 8 of 15 shots for 20 points and had 18 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end that led to second-chance opportunities. If Kanter outplays Steven Adams again, the Blazers will take a 2-0 series lead, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

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George could be pulling everyone’s leg by saying his shoulder is fine, but that serves no purpose considering he launched 24 shots on Sunday. The Thunder offense works around George and when his shots fall, the offense has a rhythm. Sure, Russ puts up ridiculous numbers, but PG13 is the key. With a game under his belt after the injury I expect him to have a big game, and in turn so does Westbrook. And I don’t see Kanter putting up the numbers he had in Game 1 which leaves the Blazers short on points in this game.

NBA Score Prediction: Thunder 110, Trail Blazers 105

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