NBA Playoff Betting Picks April 23 – Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Apr/23/2019

The legacy of Russell Westbrook is about to take another blow as the Oklahoma City Thunder are one loss away from a third straight first-round NBA playoff exit.

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The historic regular seasons are meaningless when his team gets bounced, but the series isn’t over yet and Russ can change the dynamic by orchestrating a monumental comeback against the Portland Trail Blazers. Westbrook hasn’t delivered this series, proving that the playoffs are more difficult. And when Russ or Paul George struggle the Thunder usually do the same.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers

Date and Time: Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 10:30 p.m. ET

Location: Moda Center, Portland, OR

Opening NBA Odds: Portland -3.5, O/U 220

Thunder at Trail Blazers TV Coverage: TNT

Odds Analysis

It’s evident that offense, or a lack of it, has cost the Thunder. In their three losses they failed to score 100 points and Westbrook has seen a significant drop from his regular season output. And the same can be said for PG13, who is shooting just over 30 percent from three-point range in the series. It looked as though OKC was getting back in the series after its 120-108 win in Game 3, but the Thunder couldn’t continue the momentum and were pushed to the brink of elimination with a 111-98 loss in Game 4, failing to cover the spread in all three defeats.

As inconsistent as the Thunder have been, the Blazers are the exact opposite. With their backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum leading the way, Portland is a win away from claiming its first playoff series victory in three years, one that seemed unlikely after Portland lost all four regular season meetings to OKC and were working around the loss of Jusuf Nurkic. That allowed others the opportunity to step up and Enes Kanter did just that. Defensively, the Blazers are locked in leading to three of the four games, including both in the Rose City, falling below the closing total.

Thunder

It doesn’t take a genius to know what the Thunder have to do to extend this series. When they score more than 100 points they win. When they fail to reach triple digits, they don’t. And it starts with the big two of Russ and George. They are going to get their numbers because they play the most minutes and are the most important players on the team. George scored 32 points on Sunday, but he made just 8 of 21 shots overall and 4 of 10 from deep. PG13 is averaging nearly 27 points with 8.5 rebounds in the series, but he’s shooting just 37 percent from the field.

The struggles with Westbrook and his accuracy have been well-documented this season. Although he picked things up over the second half of the year, the struggles have resurfaced against the Blazers. With the help of his 33 points in Game 3, Russ is averaging 21.3 points per game in the series. But he’s shooting just 36.3 percent from the floor and is at 30.4 percent from the three-point stripe. And he continues to launch triples, which is playing right into the hands of the Blazers.

Trail Blazers

Being an underdog in the series apparently got the Blazers motivated to play some of their best basketball. We expect Lillard and McCollum to do their thing and they have. Dame went off in the third quarter in Game 4, scoring 15 of his 24 points to help Portland pull away. He also tallied 25 points in the third quarter of Game 3. McCollum hit 5 of 9 three-pointers and tallied 27 points with the Blazers also getting double figures from Mo Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and Zach Collins.

Portland’s balanced offense has given OKC trouble, and the defense has shut down Westbrook and George. The Blazers completely took Russ out of the game when his team needed him the most, holding him to zero field goals and just one second half point on Sunday. Enes Kanter had a quiet Game 4, but the former Thunder has outplayed his counterpart Steven Adams, helping Portland to a commanding series lead.

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Westbrook’s temper gets the best of him at times, and you could tell he was frustrated with how things unfolded in Game 4. Russ will try and take over the game on Tuesday and the Blazers will be up to the task of shutting him down. Oh, he’ll get his points and numbers, but making him work is what proves to benefit the Blazers. And as long as Westbrook believes he can make three-pointers, the Blazers will let him fire away. Lillard and the Blazers were composed after Game 3 and put on a clinic to get to this point, and I like for them to end this on Tuesday.

NBA Playoff Score Prediction: Trail Blazers 111, Thunder 104

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