Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers NBA Odds, Picks, Prediction: Can Portland Avoid Play-In Tournament? (Sunday, May 16)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard goes up for a shot.
- Portland closes out the regular season by hosting Denver on Sunday night.
- If the Trail Blazers win, they will avoid having to play in the play-in tournament, regardless of what happens in the Lakers' game against New Orleans.
- Austin Wang explains why he's only betting on this game if certain Nuggets players don't suit up.
Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers Odds
|Trail Blazers Odds||-8.5|
|Moneyline||+300 / -400|
|Odds as of Sunday morning via BetMGM.|
Welcome to the last day of the NBA regular season. If you thought this would be quiet and drama free, you are incredibly wrong as there are much at stake Sunday, especially with this game between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Ironically, this game might be a preview to the first round, where it’s likely these teams will face each another in a seven-game series in just a few days. Even though this matchup is the most probable scenario, it’s not yet set in stone. Let’s break down the playoff scenarios below.
Nuggets Making Magic Happen Minus Murray
Even after losing star guard Jamal Murray in early April, the Nuggets have gone 16-5 straight up, but have only finished a ho-hum 10-11 against the spread. Standout 22-year old Michael Porter Jr. has stepped up admirably in Murray’s absence. Will he be suiting up against the Blazers?
As of Saturday, there are not yet any Nuggets players on the injury report. The games featuring the other teams that will determine the final playoff seedings are all scheduled at the same time. Therefore, it is unlikely Denver shows its hand until right before game time.
If the Nuggets win, they’ve locked themselves in the No. 3 seed. However, if the Los Angeles Lakers win against the New Orleans Pelicans, they will be No. 6 seed and set up a first round matchup between the Nuggets and the Lakers. Would it really benefit the Nuggets to win this game?
The current line implies that the Denver might not plan to give an honest effort or that they may sit some critical players, so I would proceed with caution if your eyes lit up by seeing the Nuggets as a large underdog.
Blazers Getting Things Going Entering Playoffs
The Trail Blazers have peaked at the right time and have all the momentum entering the postseason, winning nine of the 11 previous games and covering eight of those games as well. Seven of those nine outright wins were against playoff teams..
In those 11 previous games, they’re ranked first in Offensive Rating (123.5), per NBA Advanced Stats. They’re ranked first in Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (2.54) and fifth in Effective Field Goal percentage at 57.6 percent.
In the scenario that the Trail Blazers lose and the Lakers win, the Trail Blazers would fall to No. 7 seed and find themselves in the play-in tournament for the second season in a row. They have a vested interest in beating the Nuggets to avoid this predicament.
Damian Lillard is as clutch as they come and I expect he brings his best in a very important game of the season. He will be backed by a veteran squad that understands the importance of getting a few extra days of rest.
Nuggets-Trail Blazers Pick
Bottom line, this is a must-win game for the Trail Blazers and a Nuggets’ win is not in their own best interests as they would likely want to avoid the defending champions Lakers in the first round. This makes sense as the Trail Blazers have opened up 8.5-point favorites, which reflects the scenarios listed above.
With so much in the air, I am not advocating on wagering on such a complicated scenario. Also, with both teams likely playing each other first round, I doubt they will want to show each other their best weapons and strategies.
If you were adamant on playing this, wait until the lineups are released for the Nuggets. If either Porter Jr. or Nikola Jokić are declared out, I recommend siding with the Trail Blazers.
Lean: Trail Blazers -8.5 (if Jokic or Porter Jr. are declared out)