By Charles Jay
The Oklahoma City Thunder may not have Kevin Durant any more, but they have someone who is more than making up for it with his monopolization of the basketball. But they are getting some results out of it, as they are in sixth place in the Western Conference, which as usual is incredibly competitive. Russell Westbrook is on a string of triple-doubles that signal his balls-out campaign to be the league MVP. And he will lead his team into battle on Tuesday night as they pull into the Pacific Northwest for a date with the Portland Trail Blazers, scheduled to get underway at 10:35 PM ET at the Moda Center. The game will be televised as the second half of the ESPN double-header, and while BetAnySports customers are watching it, they can also place wagers in real time using the software available from Live Betting Ultra.
Portland is clinging onto the eighth spot in the West, as they are two games ahead of the Sacramento Kings. With the Utah Jazz showing vast improvement, the Trail Blazers are among a number of clubs who will be vying for that final playoff position. But they are most probably the most solid of that lot. The Blazers are 12-14 straight-up and 10-16 against the basketball pointspread, while the Thunder are 15-9 SU and 12-11-1 ATS.
In the NBA betting odds posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, the Blazers are the slight favorites:
Portland Trail Blazers -1
Oklahoma City Thunder +1
Over 218 points -110
Under 218 points -110
Westbrook is currently averaging a triple-double, and that hasn’t been done since Oscar Robertson did ti for the Cincinnati Royals in the 1961-62 season. He has tallied 31.1 points, 11 assists and 10.9 rebounds per game, ranking first, 10th and second, respectively, in those categories.
But he is hitting just 42.8% from the floor, which means that if you can force him into some bad shots, he will no doubt keep taking bad shots, and that is a formula for victory against this OKC team. As is usually the case, there aren’t many scoring options on this team, and one of them, guard Victor Oladipo, who is averaging 16 points, may not be available for this contest because of a sprained wrist.
BetAnySports customers know that at any rate, the backcourts are going to be dominant here. That’s because the Blazers have one of the best duos in the league. Between Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum, they average a little over 50 points per game. Lillard is a sort of mini-Westbrook, if you will, as his Usage figure is 31.2%.
The Thunder runs, with a “Pace” rating that is sixth in the league. And that is part of Westbrook’s effectiveness. They have gone 7-1 straight-up and 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games. But they have gone under the total in six of the last seven.
Does Portland have someone who can stop Westbrook, or slow him down? Well, the Blazers don’t rank highly in the defensive metrics. They have allowed opponents to shoot almost 46% (including at least 47% in seven of the last ten games) and in the category of “Defensive Rating,” which measures points surrendered per 100 possessions, they are dead last in the NBA. Neither Lillard nor McCollum is necessarily known for his defensive prowess, but they don’t match up all that baldy with Westbrook and Oladipo, and there is hardly going to be any lack of focus.
We’ll look for a little game of “can you top this,” which, considering the lack of defense on the Portland side, should result in an “over” at this number.
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