Thunder-Blazers Betting Guide: A Case for the Over/Under

Thunder-Blazers Betting Guide: A Case for the Over/Under article feature image

Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) stand on the court during a free throw attempt against the Golden State Warriors in the second quarter at Oracle Arena.

Betting Odds: Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers

  • Spread: Pick’em
  • Over/Under: 224
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN

>> All odds as of 5 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

In Friday’s only national TV game, Russell Westbrook and the 24-13 Thunder will visit Damian Lillard and the 22-16 Blazers.

It’s the first time these division foes have met this year, and the line is set at a pick’em. Is there any value in the spread? What about the total? Our analysts dive in.

Betting Trends to Know

The Blazers have dominated the Thunder against the spread recently, including at home in the Moda Center. Portland has covered six consecutive games against Oklahoma City, covering the spread by 9.1 PPG, including its last four home games against the Thunder.

On the road this season, the Thunder have leaned heavily to the under, going 14-6 (70%), and going under the total by 7.2 PPG. In 2018, the Thunder are the most profitable team in the NBA on the road to the under; across the last three seasons, the under is 63-41-4 (60.6%) in Thunder road games. They’re the most profitable team to the under in that span. — Evan Abrams

Mears: Why I Like the Over/Under Tonight

This seems to be a very tough matchup for the Blazers given how they like to run their offense.

The Blazers play incredibly slow, getting out in transition on only 12.7% of their possessions — 29th in the league. They almost never push off live rebounds, ranking dead last in the NBA in that regard.

That’s unlikely to change tonight, as the Thunder slow things down for opponents, forcing them to operate in the halfcourt at a top-five rate. And here’s the bad news: The Thunder are easily the league’s best halfcourt defense, posting a make-you-look-twice 87.0 Defensive Rating.

That means very few buckets will come easy to Portland, and that’s a problem because the Blazers aren’t exactly the most optimized offense in the league. They’re 10th in long mid-rangers and 29th in corner-3s.

Digging further into the data, the Blazers take the third-fewest catch-and-shoot shots in the league, behind only the Cavaliers and Clippers. As you might expect, that means a lot of pull-up shots; they’re fifth in that regard. I will say they’re quite good at them thanks to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, sitting fourth in effective field goal percentage on pull-up shots.

But this Thunder defense is elite, and they have a long, brilliant defender in Paul George to throw onto Damian Lillard. Per NBA Stats, the Thunder allow a low 44.1% effective field goal rate on shots in which their opponent dribbled at least three times — a decent proxy for pull-up shots. They’re allowing opponents to make 28.4% such 3-pointers.

Further, they’re forcing opponents into very late shots (shot clock at four seconds or lower) at the second-highest rate in the league. Opponents are predictably shooting terribly on those attempts. The Blazers already don’t generate incredibly high-efficient looks, and the Thunder are built to both force and stop those the ones they will see.

Finally, the Blazers sit 12th on offense but just 19th in effective field goal percentage. The reason for the discrepancy? They’re great at rebounding, grabbing offensive and defensive boards at top-six clips.

Unfortunately for them, the Thunder are even better rebounding on both sides of the ball, led by one of the best in the business in Steven Adams.

Lillard, who can always get hot, has shot over 50% from the field in just one meeting with the Thunder since 2016. In his last two games against them, he’s gone 6-of-19 and 5-of-18. If George gets the assignment, he’ll have to really work to get his numbers.

Given all of the reasons above, I think the Blazers will struggle to score in this one. The Blazers are 12-8 to the under this season, and as mentioned in the trends section above, the Thunder are easily the most profitable road under team in the league. I like it again tonight. — Bryan Mears

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.