Portland defended their home court in Game 1 of the opening round playoff series vs. Oklahoma City, scoring a 104-99 win as -4 point favorites. The Trail Blazers are once again favored at the Moda Center in the April 16th NBA free pick, with oddsmakers setting the line at POR -1. Can the seemingly banged up Thunder even up the series, or are the Trail Blazers simply too insurmountable at home?
Is Oklahoma City Too Injured to Contend in Game Two?
Although they did not show it in game one, the Thunder’s two main stars are still on the injury report. Paul George played 42 minutes and had a 26/10 night despite having shoulder woes. Russell Westbrook is also probable Tuesday with an ankle injury, but he went for 24/10/10 in 37 minutes on Sunday. The loss in Game 1 broke a 5 game winning streak that the Thunder had put together to close out the regular season.
Oklahoma City should be optimistic heading into the April 16th NBA free pick despite the 0-1 hole. The Thunder were down 14 after the first quarter, but rallied to within a point with under 3 minutes in regulation. Portland was on fire out of the gates too, shooting 60% from the field in the first frame including going 7-10 from three point range. Does OKC make the adjustments en route to tying up the series before heading back to Oklahoma City?
Is Portland Vulnerable in This One?
The Trail Blazers have a great opportunity to go up 2-0 on Oklahoma City because it’s not like George’s shoulder miraculously recovered with one night off. Portland’s win in Game 1 was their 8th in the last 10 games, and the team hasn’t skipped a beat despite losing big man Jusuf Nurkic for the year late in the season. Enes Kanter has filled in admirably at the C position and went for 20 points and 18 rebounds vs. Steven Adams and the Thunder front court in Game 1. Kanter closed out the regular season with a 22 point 16 rebound game and is an unlikely X factor for the rest of this series.
Of course Portland’s bread will always be buttered with their back court. That was no different as Damian Lillard (30) and CJ McCollum (24) combined for over half of the Trail Blazers’ points. It was an especially positive game for McCollum, who had his highest scoring total in the three games since returning from a knee injury, while also playing 36 minutes. George averaged 38 per game vs. Portland during the regular season, but the Trail Blazers defense will benefit greatly if he remains hobbled.
April 16th NBA Free Pick Betting
Oklahoma City had taken all four vs. Portland during the regular season which is why Game 2 is essentially a PK despite the Blazers capturing the series opener. The Thunder are a different team with George not at full strength however and believe it or not, the Trail Blazers might be better offensively with Kanter in the lineup. Throw in a rowdy Moda Center crowd that is hungry after their first playoff win in the last three years (swept 4-0 last two seasons) and 2-0 is looking doable.
NBA Free Pick: Portland Trail Blazers -1