Another week of NBA action continues tonight with a nine-game slate. One of those games features the Portland Trail Blazers heading to Oklahoma City to take on a depleted Thunder team. We’ll preview the game and then get into my best bet for the action.
Over their last ten games, the Portland Trail Blazers have been able to go 6-4, winning four of their last five. Offensively this team was imposing in that stretch, putting up the highest offensive efficiency rating in the league at 118.9. This gave them a NET rating of 2.9 in that span.
Portland has put up the best three-point percentage in the league this season at 38.8%, and that shooting has carried them over the past ten games. The Trail Blazers have an effective shooting percentage of 57.9%, which is third in the league in that span.
The weakness of the Trail Blazers during that ten-game stretch was their defense. Portland was 22nd in the NBA in defensive efficiency rating, and in their most recent loss, they allowed 130 points to the Dallas Mavericks. They may catch a break defensively tonight, as it looks like Oklahoma City will be without leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
In fact, Oklahoma City will be without Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The Thunder have not been as successful as Portland in their last ten games, going 4-6 in that span. OKC put up a NET rating of -1.1 in those ten games and ranked 27th in offensive rating.
Before these injuries, the Thunder has been finding more success on the defensive end. Over those ten games, OKC did an excellent job of limiting teams in transition, allowing just 11.7 fastbreak points per game, good enough for fifth in the league.
This game has seen a lot of movement, opening with Portland favored by -3.5 and moving to -7.5 once the Thunder injury news broke. As of right now, the Trail Blazers can be found as -5.5 point favorites, and they are my best bet. Portland is 7-3 ATS over their last ten games and is 12-5 ATS this season when on the road.
Oklahoma City has shown improvement in the last ten days, but their injury report looking like a CVS receipt tonight, will be too much for them to overcome. I would not have touched this game if the number stayed at -7.5, but I like it at its current number. The absence of Darius Bazley tonight really hurts this improving Thunder defense. In the nine games, Bazley has missed this season, the Thunder have allowed 6.4 more points per game, and opponents have gone from shooting 31.8% from three to 39.9% from three when he hasn’t played.
Not all of this can be attributed to just one person, but it does show the defensive impact he possesses on a nightly basis. Damian Lillard is averaging over 30 points per game over his last ten games, and I don’t think OKC has anyone that can slow him or Anfernee Simons down tonight.
Portland Trail Blazers (-5.5)