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Odds Favor a Player Scoring Over 40 Points, But Not Topping 50 in West Play-In Game

SBD Staff Writer

by SBD Staff Writer in NBA Basketball

Updated Mar 17, 2021 · 1:29 PM PDT

McCollum and Lillard
Portland will be without CJ McCollum for at least a month (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
  • Odds favor a player from the Memphis Grizzlies or Portland Trail Blazers to top 40 points in the West Play-In game
  • Damian Lillard has been on a historic run over the past week – can he keep it going?
  • See the odds and the prop available within the story below

The battle for the #8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs is now set and the presence of lethal scoring machine Damian Lillard inspired an interesting prop bet that puts him front and center. In this unusual offering of playoff-level competition, the Blazers have the #8 seed, but must secure it with one win over the Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon.

The Grizzlies can displace the Blazers by beating them twice over the next two days, a tall order – but not impossible given some of the crazy outcomes that the bubble has delivered. The question is will Lillard, backcourt running mate C.J. McCollum or Grizzlies standout rookie Ja Morant go off for 40  – or 50 – points during the play-in game?

Odds on Player to Score 40 or 50 Points in West Play-In Game

Prop Yes Odds No Odds
Any Player to score 40+ Points during West Play-In -160 +120
Any Player to score 50+ Points during West Play-In +225 -350

Odds taken August 14

Elevated Defensive Effort in Playoff Atmosphere a Potential Factor

The primary consideration has to be the defensive focus that comes with a must win game. Is it realistic to expect even Lillard to hit 40 or 50 under those conditions? These heavy circumstances will have the coaches stressing rhythm shots, extra passes and  enough two-point attempts from the paint to keep the scoring out of the stratosphere.

Past performance in 2020 says its doable, with Lillard posting eleven 40-plus point performances, including six in the bubble.

Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets, he had 42 after a slow start, leaving no doubt that he plans to carry the team whether coach Terry Stotts likes it or not.

Unfortunately for Portland, the Nets put out a solid book on guarding Dame – hit him with double teams. While Memphis will likely mirror with a similar scheme, Lillard can take it up a notch in the playoffs as he averaged 26.9 PPG in the playoffs last season.

Performances of McCollum, Carmelo Will Make a Difference

The counter to that argument, of course, is the supremely talented C.J. McCollum, who forces teams to single up on Lillard with his 22.2 PPG average.  There’s also Carmelo Anthony (15.5 PPG), who is earning plaudits as a team player willing to sacrifice points for the greater good. And Lillard takes pride in his ability to give Melo open threes via penetrate and dish.

Still, McCollum and Anthony like their points and Jusuf Nurkic averages 17 per night as well.  We know that coaches prefer a balanced attack in the biggest games and the Blazers can win that way, too.

Grizzlies Can Fill It Up as Well

On the other side, Memphis is a balanced scoring team and as impressive as Ja Morant is, his 17.9 PPG and playmaking responsibility do not suggest anything close to a 40-point night. The rookie has never scored more than 30 points in a game and is more likely to get a triple-double than he is to get 40.

Another Memphis rookie, Brandon Clarke, could pull it off with his size and skillset. He did have 27 points in 23 minutes against the Blazers in a pre-bubble overtime game, but it’s tough to imagine a 40-point night for him in this atmosphere. The Grizzlies other reliable scorer was Jaren Jackson Jr., but he is out for the season with a torn meniscus.

Logic and Value Say Bet “No”

The value appears to lie in the “no” on any player to score 40+ simply because it comes at +160.  Keep in mind that Lillard could get two shots at it if the Grizzlies win on Saturday and force a sudden death contest on Sunday.

However, the importance of the ultimate outcome indicates plenty of defense, a slightly slower pace with every possession and coaches seeking smart shot selection.  Betting the over 50 prop for a tasty +210 is an unwise approach to establishing your rooting interest.  If you like the +160 on no 40-point scorer, then the -270 on the no 50-point scorer would be a lock and probably a nice way to secure a bankroll boost.

I can’t imagine going the other way and watching fourth quarter action hoping that Dame will start firing up threes in a do-or-die contest with teammates and coaches looking for the surer thing, so the conservative approach is the play.  Betting on Lillard to get 40 or 50 is sexy but not smart.

Pick:  No – Will any player score 40+ points during West Play-In (+160)

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