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Trail Blazers Now Favored to Win Series with Thunder After Winning Game 1

Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers are now favored to win their first-round playoff series. Photo by Frenchieinportland [CC License].
  • Paul George, who shot 8-of-24 in Game 1, is clearly hampered by a left shoulder injury
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder finished the regular season just 12-14 
  • The Portland Trail Blazers’ Game 1 win was their first playoff victory in 10 tries

The Oklahoma City Thunder were once viewed as the top challenger to the Golden State Warriors this season. However, a sluggish finish to the regular season as well as a loss in their playoff opener has turned the Portland Trail Blazers – their first-round opponent – into the favorite in NBA first-round series prices. Is Portland a good bet?

Thunder vs Trail Blazers Playoff Series Odds

Team Thunder-Trail Blazers Odds
Oklahoma City Thunder +110
Portland Trail Blazers -130

*Odds taken 04/15/19

Trail Blazers Finally Win a Playoff Game

The Trail Blazers had lost 10 straight playoff games, so getting a win – even if it’s just one game – was important to them. This team knows that they’re not going to win a championship, but winning a series would be a huge step forward for them. That’s their goal right now.

Blazers Were the Better Team

The Blazers have home-court advantage and finished the regular season with more wins, so I always found it surprising that they weren’t the favorite to begin with. Obviously, their playoff history and the brand names (like Russell Westbrook) on the other side is what landed the Thunder as the chalk.

However, take a look at how they finished the year. Yes, the Thunder won five straight to close out the campaign but few of those wins were impressive. Secondly, even with those five wins, this team was just 12-14 down the stretch. Portland had (and has) more momentum as they won 14 of their final 17 games.

George is Injured

There’s no skirting the fact that Paul George has some kind of shoulder injury that is limiting him. If you bet the Thunder thinking they’d win this series because their Big Two was better than Portland’s, you might have to reassess at this point.

Yes, George finished second in scoring this season, averaging 28.0 points per game. However, he’s been battling a shoulder injury for a little while now and you can see the dip in his numbers. In January, he scored 29.6 points per game while hitting 45.1% of his shots. In February, it was 35.0 per game while shooting 44% from the field.

George’s scoring average dipped from 35.0 points per game in February to 25.8 points per game in April.

Taking a look more recently, though, George’s numbers dropped to 26.2 points and 40.3% from the field in March and 25.8 points and 40.9% from the field in April. We saw more of the same in the playoff opener where he scored 26 but needed 24 shots to do so. Something is wrong, and his inefficient shooting is impacting the team.

Trail Blazers are the Best Bet

Of course, the Trail Blazers’ playoff history makes me nervous betting them, but I think they’re the right choice. With George ailing right now, they have the edge on the court. Beyond that, they have home-court advantage and were the better team in the regular season. They’re worth a small bet here.

NBA Playoff Bracket

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