The Portland Trail Blazers entered the 2019 NBA playoffs on a long postseason losing streak, having been swept in the first round in 2017 and 2018.
Per OddsShark, the Oklahoma City Thunder entered the series as a -133 favorite to advance. But the Trail Blazers shot extremely well in the first half of Game 1, building a 19-point lead that helped the team end its postseason drought.
Now Portland will try to improve its series record to 3-11 since 2000 by closing out the series at home.
Portland Trail Blazers -3.5 vs. Oklahoma City
I played Oklahoma City to win last year’s series against Utah, and the Thunder lost in six games. I played Oklahoma City to win the series again this year against Portland. I bought into OKC’s talent both times, but I’m done with betting the Thunder in the postseason. Someone please remind me next year if I forget.
The Blazers have been the better team all series.
While Russell Westbrook is putting up numbers and trying to compete with Damian Lillard, the Blazers are playing to beat the Thunder. Westbrook might be making some plays in the paint, but Portland is encouraging him to shoot from downtown, which is working in the Blazers’ favor. Outside of Game 3, Westbrook is just 2-for-17 from downtown, including 1-for-10 in Portland.
Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been outplaying Westbrook and Paul George with ease through four games, particularly in Portland. Westbrook is 13-for-37 shooting on the road in this series. While Paul George did average 26.5 points in the two road games, he shot just 6-for-22 from the 3-point line in those games. Westbrook and George have shot a combined 7-for-32 from 3 in Portland.
Lillard and McCollum combined for 116 total points in their two home games, shooting an efficient 15-of-33 from 3, partially thanks to Westbrook’s lack of defense. Westbrook bails out early on shooters to try to pad his rebounding numbers.
A Westbrook-led Thunder doesn’t know how to win playoff games on the road. They’re 0-8 in such games since Kevin Durant departed.
With a tight point spread Tuesday, count on Portland to close out the series and cover at home.
Some trends point to another sharp bet in this game, though.
Portland Trail Blazers -2 1H vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
I like Portland to take a halftime lead for all the reasons I listed above. The first half could be an even better wager than the full-game spread.
The Blazers are an insane 24-15-4 ATS in first-half home games this season. Oklahoma City is one of the worst first-half bets in the league (just 8-30 ATS in its last 38 games).