The Portland Trail Blazers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday in Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, and while the basketball world at large will have eyes for Damian Lillard vs. Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter vs. the franchise that traded him, and the start of Paul George’s “Hey remember I was a legit MVP candidate not that long ago” tour, there’s a niche category of folks tracking moneylines, point spreads, and everything else that the sports betting experience offers.
Actually, here in 2019, it’s not as niche as it may sound. Since the U.S. government allowed individual states to make their own decisions about legalizing sports gambling, the topic has become a mainstream discussion. Major outlets like ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report are covering sports from a bettor’s perspective, but they’re also integrating things like the spreads into the regular lexion of everyday analysis.
Perhaps you’ve seen something like this leading up to this weekend’s action:
Game 1 playoff odds, via @CaesarsPalace— B/R Betting (@br_betting) April 11, 2019
Raptors (-8.5) vs. Magic
Warriors (-12.5) vs. Clippers
Nuggets (-5.5) vs. Spurs
Celtics (-7) vs. Pacers
Blazers (-3) vs. Thunder
Rockets (-6.5) vs. Jazz
BKN-PHI and DET-MIL lines currently unavailable pic.twitter.com/Ls8ljToomm
Here’s what you need to know about betting Blazers:
Blazers -3, Thunder +3: The Blazers are favored to win the first game of the series on their homecourt, and they’re projected to win by three points. Betting Blazers against the three-point spread means you would need Portland to win by three or more points for it to be a successful bet. Betting Thunder +3 means the Thunder would need to lose by fewer than three points (or win the game) for it to be a successful bet.
Portland had the better overall finish to the year, but the Thunder got hot at the right time, winning five straight to end the season, including victories over the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks. It’s no surprise this is expected to be the most tightly contested Game 1 of the day’s slate.
Blazers (-145), Thunder (+125): The Blazers are favored to win the contest and they have a -145 Moneyline. Because you are making the “safer” choice by betting Blazers to win when they are favored, you would have to pay $145 to win $100. (Note that you always get money back on a successful bet, so it would be $100 back in addition to your original $145.) This does not have to be a $100 bet, either. If you successfully bet $5, it would translate to a profit of $3.45, for instance. If you made the “riskier” choice by betting the Thunder to win at a +125 Moneyline, you would only have to bet $100 to win $125. Or at a successful $5 bet would net a $6.25 profit.
Game 1 could have a number of X-Factors, but one to look out for throughout the entire series is how efficient Enes Kanter is at the rim. We already know the team won’t get anything from him on defense—the team knows it too, which is why he was always supposed to be a complement to the more rugged Nurkic, not a replacement. As long as Kanter is crashing the boards and completing a high percentage of his looks (knowing when to kick it back out to the perimeter is a big part of that), he’ll remain a Godsend in Nurk’s absence. But as soon as his offense starts to mimic his defense, that’s when he could become a liability and all bets are out the window. After all, we saw what happened a year ago when the Blazers lacked a playmaking big who was also a pain in everyone’s neck on the less-glamorous side of the court.
Game 1 O/U 225 (-110): The Blazers and Thunder are projected to score a combined 225 points. Placing a successful bet, whether Over or Under, would pay out at the same rate as a -110 Moneyline. So $110 would earn you a profit of $100.
On the season, the Trail Blazers averaged 114.7 points per game. That number was good enough for sixth in the NBA. The Thunder averaged 114.5 points per game, which was good enough for seventh. In games when they faced each other this season, the two combined for a total of 234.5 points per night. Over seems like a safe bet on the surface, but remember the golden rule of the playoffs: Things slow down.
Head To Head
L10: POR 6-4 ATS, 6-4 SU, 4-5-1 O/U In the last 10 meetings between the Blazers and Thunder, Portland has won six of them outright (or Straight Up) and lost four, while also beating the spread six times and losing against the spread four times. In four of the contests, the two teams combined to go over their O/U projection. In five of the 10, the two teams went under. In one game, the two teams combined for the exact projection.
L3: POR 0-3 ATS, 0-3 SU, 2-1 O/U In the last three meetings between the Blazers and Thunder, Portland has lost all three both straight up and against the spread. Two of the games have gone over the projected O/U, while one went under.
The Blazers struggled against the Thunder this season. Although the games themselves were largely competitive—not to mention entertaining—Portland failed to make it look interesting on paper falling victim to the regular-season broom.
Blazers Odds To Win Western Conference: +2200 At +2200, a successful $100 bet would pay back $2,200. Or at $5, $100. Compare that to the odds-on favorite Golden State Warriors (-225) and the dead-last LA Clippers at +8000.
Believe it or not, Portland has a legitimate path to the Western Conference Finals. If variables such as George’s health and Westbrook’s efficiency end up going the Blazers’ way, their No. 3 seed becomes even more important, as bracket location has them avoiding both the Warriors and Rockets until the conference finals. Golden State would be a big-time favorite in this situation assuming they took down Houston, but if the stars align up to this point, there’s little reason to believe Portland will lose all its momentum after series wins over OKC and likely Denver.
Blazers Odds To Win NBA Championship: +4000 The Blazers enter the postseason at odds to win a title that would pay out at $4,000 on a $100 bet. Scaled down, a $5 bet would profit $200. Compare that to the odds-on favorite Warriors at -225, as well as the dead-last LA Clippers at +15000.
Getting past the Warriors would feel like winning a championship. It would be celebrated as such in Portland for years to come regardless of the outcome, but winning an actual Larry O’Brien Trophy would require four more victories. As soon as someone (anyone) eliminates the Warriors, there will be a renewed energy among all remaining contenders.
Blazers Trends (h/t Covers.com)
- Blazers are 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 games playing on 3 or more days rest
- Blazers are 7-24-2 against the spread in their last 33 Conference Quarterfinals games
- Blazers are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight-up record
- Over is 5-0 in Blazers last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record
- Over is 16-5-1 in Blazers last 22 home games
- Over is 7-3 in Blazers last 10 Conference Quarterfinals games
- Blazers are 0-4 straight up in last four head-to-head meetings
Series Odds (h/t ActionNetwork.com)
- Blazers in 4: +1400
- Blazers in 5: +650
- Blazers in 6: +750
- Blazers in 7: +350
- Thunder in 4: +1200
- Thunder in 5: +550
- Thunder in 6: +400
- Thunder in 7: +425