Dogs Ready to Bite the Books: Oklahoma City at Portland
The Oklahoma City Thunder won their last five regular season games straight-up while going 4-1 against the spread. The rally moved them to No. 6 in the Western Conference playoffs and the star power of Russell Westbrook and Paul George designated the Thunder as the team nobody wanted to face in the NBA postseason.
The Portland Trail Blazers won five of their last six regular season games SU, including a huge come-from-behind victory against Sacramento in their season finale to secure the No. 3 seed in the West. Many of the same NBA experts predicted an early exit for Portland.
Heading into Game 5 of this Northwest Division clash, the Trail Blazers have the commanding 3-1 series lead with Tuesday night’s contest on their home court. They opened as 3.5-point favorites with the total set at 220.5.
Top Underdog Bet- Take the Thunder (+3.5) against the Trail Blazers
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It is fair to say that Oklahoma City might be a bit overrated at the expense of just how good Portland really is. The fact that the Thunder are fighting for their playoff life in Game 5 tends to confirm this stance.
OKC lost the first two games of this series on the road as a slight underdog. After dropping Game 1 by six points as a three-point underdog, it got blown out 114-94 in Game 2 on the road as a one-point underdog. After taking care of business at home in Game 3 with a solid 120-108 victory as 7.5-point favorites, the Thunder let things slip away on Sunday with a 111-98 loss as 5.5-point home favorites.
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Going back to the regular season, Oklahoma City went a perfect 4-0 both SU and ATS against Portland. That has to instill some confidence for Tuesday night’s ‘win or go home for good’ scenario. One of the big reasons the Thunder is down 3-1 in this series was Westbrook’s no show in the second half of Sunday’s loss when he was held scoreless. They also had no answer for Portland’s leading scorer Damian Lillard (24 points) and CJ McCollum (27 points).
As 3.5-point road underdogs for Tuesday’s pivotal Game 5, it will either be a case of lessons learned to rally on the road to keep this series alive, or another major letdown in the postseason. I would have to agree that it is going to be extremely difficult to win the next three games of this series. However, I still think that Oklahoma City has enough gas left in the tank to take this series to Game 6 on Thursday night back on its home court.
We hit a roadblock in last week’s Dogs Ready to Bite the Books article.
When the Thunder play to their strengths, they are the better overall team in this matchup. There is a reason why they won all four regular season games in this divisional clash. Two players trying to too much is also a factor in the 3-1 deficit. OKC needs to study the tape from its 12-point victory in Game 3.
Westbrook played to form in that game with 33 points while going 11-for-22 from the floor and 4-for-6 from three-point range. George added 22 points and six assists and the Thunder, as a team, shot 48.1 percent from the field and a blazing 51.7 percent from beyond the arc. More importantly, their defense stepped up its game for the first time in this series.
Working against the Thunder is Portland playing at a very high level and playing this game at home. The early betting consensus for Game 5 remains rather evenly split between the two teams. However, I still see Westbrook and George playing to form to rally their team to the SU win.
Article by Dave Schwab
Posted April 22nd, 2019
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