The Oklahoma City Thunder clash with the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of what should be one of the most competitive and fun-to-watch playoff series this season.
Sunday, April 14 at 3:30 PM ET
FiveThirtyEight's CARMELO spread for this game is a pick'em, so there's betting value taking the Thunder and the points. OKC sweeping the regular season series against Portland 4-0 SU and ATS helps build this case, especially when you realize that Jusuf Nurkic (15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 steals) played in those games before a broken leg ended his season.
Paul George (28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.2 steals) knows a thing or two about gruesome leg injuries but now he's dealing with a sore right shoulder that has him as questionable for this game. George just had the best season of his career and he clearly expects to play:
"It's playoff time, so it's more than this, it's about being out there with my guys," George said last Friday. "As much as I can get it a hundred as possible, or close to it, you can expect me out there Sunday."
PG13 missed Wednesday's 127-116 road win against the Bucks in the regular season finale after experiencing too much pain to play through during a pre-game workout. George has been dealing with soreness in both shoulders since late February and he may be less than 100 percent but he's the best player in this series for a reason.
George is an MVP candidate and the Trail Blazers have to prevent him from going off in this series. PG13 averaged 38.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals in 40.3 minutes over four games against the Trail Blazers this season, including a triple-double where he scored 47 points.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are:
5-1 ATS in their last six games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game
12-3 ATS in their last 15 games after scoring more than 125 points in their previous game
4-1 ATS in their last five games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
The Portland Trail Blazers are:
3-8 ATS in their last 11 games after allowing more than 125 points in their previous game
7-24-2 ATS in their last 33 games in the first round of the NBA Playoffs
0-4 ATS in the last four meetings
If Paul George plays, trying to limit him will be a huge task, he can score in a lot of different ways and making it difficult on him is going to be key for the Trail Blazers, they can't let him be comfortable. I'll keep my bet size small just in case George is out but I would be surprised if he misses this game.
NBA Pick: Thunder +3.5 (-110) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzonaff