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Thunder vs. Blazers Game 3 Betting Preview: Expect an OKC Bounce Back?

Credit:

Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Russell Westbrook

Game 3 Betting Odds: Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Spread: Thunder -7.5
  • Over/Under: 221.5
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN
  • Series Score: Blazers Lead 2-0

>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


No Jusuf Nurkic? No problem for the Blazers, apparently.

Portland has taken a somewhat surprising 2-0 series lead, but that also means the Thunder will be incredibly motivated back at home. What does that mean for tonight’s spread? Our analysts dive in.

Trends to Know

Since 2005, the five teams to trail a playoff series 0-2 and be listed as 7-point favorites in Game 3 are just 2-3 straight up and 1-4 against the spread, losing their last two games outright. Evan Abrams

  • 2018 Sixers (-9.5) vs. BOS (L, 101-98)
  • 2010 Spurs (-7) vs. PHX (L, 110-96)
  • 2008 Lakers (-9.5) vs. BOS (W, 87-81)
  • 2008 Spurs (-7.5) vs. NOH (W, 110-99)
  • 2008 Suns (-7) vs. SAS (L, 115-99)

Teams who lose their first two games of a series tend to bounce back in must-win Game 3s, especially in the first half. Since 2005, teams down 0-2 have gone 80-43-2 (65.0%) against the spread in the first half.John Ewing

Will OKC’s poor 3-point shooting stop? The Thunder shot a combined 10-61 (16.4%) from 3-point range in the first two games of this series, becoming the first team since the 2015-16 Rockets to shoot worse than 20% from 3 in consecutive playoff games.

The last team to shoot worse than 20% from 3 in three straight playoff games was the 1999 Atlanta Hawks, who did so over the final three games of their second-round series against the Knicks.

The last team to do it in its first two playoff games of the first round was the New Jersey Nets against the Pacers in 2006. New Jersey opened the series 3-30 (10%) from 3 in the first two games and actually ended up winning the five-game series in a decisive Game 5 in New Jersey. Abrams


Locky: How I’m Betting This Game

The first-half angle mentioned above is particularly interesting because you see it reflected in the market for the game. The Thunder are -8 currently but -6 in the first half. Clearly the market is aware of some correlation between the 0-2 home team and the strong first half, but yet even in the last three years that trend has still done very well, so maybe markets still aren’t adjusting enough?

It’s certainly interesting to consider, because the Thunder haven’t made any 3s and their role players have been just atrocious, so the idea of some type of bounce back isn’t out of the question.

The problem for me here is the Blazers made it a habit the second half of the season of playing VERY well on the road. They are one of the rarest of teams — from February 15 onward they had a better Net Rating on the road than at home (and the Thunder were barely a positive Net Rating team at home in the second half).

So, if you’re expecting a different version of the two teams to show up… you’re right! Portland’s actually going to be better. And the Thunder might be just as bad, or worse. This isn’t like with Denver, where the Nuggets magically become amazing at home.

The other thing to remember is that, although the Thunder’s shooting has been bad, they aren’t a good shooting team at all anyway. There isn’t going to be some crazy regression in all likelihood. These are bad shots for them to take, and a lot of them won’t go in.

I was expecting more defensive adjustments in Game 2 so Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum wouldn’t have the ball as much or be forced to pass (and therefore wouldn’t take so many shots), but we didn’t see that at all: the pair took a combined 43 field goal attempts in the Game 2 win. I don’t think Billy Donovan would just throw away Game 2 and implement adjustments in Game 3, so that makes me think no such adjustments are forthcoming.

If that’s true, this number is too big. The Blazers aren’t 4 to 4.5 points worse on a neutral court (giving OKC a healthy home-court advantage in that calculation.) The Thunder may get out to a big first-half lead, but based on what we’ve seen so far and the lack of Thunder adjustments available, that lead may be short lived. I like the Blazers at this number. — Ken Barkley


Mears: How I’m Handicapping Tonight’s Game

The Thunder have to start making some 3-pointers eventually, right? Right?!

  • Paul George: 6-of-22 (27.3%)
  • Russell Westbrook: 1-of-10 (10.0%)
  • Jerami Grant: 0-of-8 (0.0%)
  • Dennis Schroder: 0-of-8 (0.0%)
  • Terrance Ferguson: 2-of-7 (28.6%)

It truly has to be hell for Thunder execs to have to watch Kevin Durant, obviously an awesome 3-point shooter, and James Harden, literally re-shaping the future of the NBA with Moreyball and 3-point rates. This series have been pretty darn ugly for OKC.

And it will get better, but let’s be cautious about talking about regression to the mean. The “mean” isn’t the same thing for every team, and the Thunder weren’t exactly a good shooting team in the first place. On the year, they ranked 22nd in 3-point percentage, hitting just 35.4% of their attempts. So, sure, they’ll be better than 17%, but let’s not expect them to suddenly become the Warriors.

That said, this series and these teams are close enough that maybe regression to their mean is enough, especially if Portland falls back a bit, too. The Blazers are first in the playoffs right now in 3-point rate, draining 44.4% of their attempts. They’re actually not getting far superior looks; they’re just incredibly hot right now.

Further, the Blazers are really struggling at the rim in this series: Whereas they rank first in the playoffs in 3-point percentage, they’re second-to-last in field goal percentage at the rim behind only the lowly, Blake-less Pistons. Steven Adams, Paul George and Jerami Grant have been excellent defending the rim in this series; it’s just been overshadowed by Portland’s outside shooting.

Again, these things likely to regress might not matter in a lopsided series like Pistons-Bucks, but they will in this one. I still think we’re in for a long series. That said, this number is high! I think this is closer to a stay-away than a surefire bet on the Thunder, but I’m definitely intrigued by the second-half trends mentioned above. — Bryan Mears


Moore: My Thoughts on Tonight’s Game

I’ve been burned by the Thunder twice, so I’m staying away, outside of grabbing OKC -6 1H because of this piece. I can’t deal with another punch to the nerds from OKC.

The Thunder really are the better team and should win this game going away. But the Thunder have proven that their biggest issue is playing to capacity. Their moments of looking like they’re at their ceiling are basically double rainbows. You’re only going to find them on YouTube.

But if we look at the range of outcomes with what we’ve read above, what do we think? The Blazers’ total is at 107, and that seems wildly high. The Thunder are playing at a slower pace in the playoffs, and if they’re going to win this game, it’ll be with defense. If the Thunder lose this game, it’ll be because Ken’s right — there’s no big regression coming offensively for the Thunder.

OKC can win this game 115-105 or lose it 100-96. The Thunder had the fourth-best Defensive Rating at home this season. If anything is going to get back on track for OKC, it’s going to be the defense. I’ll take Portland under 107, grab OKC -6 in the first half and leave the late-game hijinks, which are inevitably coming, alone, and avoid the full-game numbers. — Matt Moore


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.

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