Welcome to the Saturday, May 18 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for today’s Golden State-Portland playoff matchup I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Regular-season series results:
- Nov. 23: Warriors 125, Blazers 97 (Oracle Arena)
- Dec. 27: Blazers 110, Warriors 109 (OT) (Oracle Arena)
- Dec. 29: Warriors 115, Blazers 105 (Moda Center)
- Feb. 13: Blazers 129, Warriors 107 (Moda Center)
Playoff series results:
- May 14: Warriors 114, Blazers 96 (Oracle Arena)
- May 16: Warriors 114, Blazers 111 (Oracle Arena)
5/18/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Golden State Warriors (57-25 reg. season, 10-4 postseason) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (53-29 reg. season, 8-6 postseason)
The Blazers clapped back after a Game 1 whooping with an excellent first half at Oracle Thursday night. Then, the Warriors executed an impressive comeback and showed their championship pedigree down the stretch of a close game to rip the win away from the young Blazers.
Portland is now 0-7 in home playoff games against the Warriors but returns home as a 2.5-point favorite for Saturday’s Game 3. As mentioned in previous articles, the Blazers were 32-9 with a stellar +8.2 point differential at home during the regular season. They were 21-20 with an even point differential on the road.
Damian Lillard rediscovered his confidence in shooting from very long range and was far more efficient with a .619 true shooting percentage at home this year. Lillard is averaging 32.8 PPG and shooting 45.8% from the field in playoff home games this year. Over his last five road playoff games, he’s averaging just 18.2 PPG on 32.5% FG shooting.
Lillard’s resurgence down the stretch of Game 2 is certainly a silver lining for the Blazers. It is difficult for even the great Klay Thompson to guard Lillard or C.J. McCollum without help. And Portland’s role players are growing more confident with each minute of floor time.
Seth Curry stepped up against his older brother on both ends of the floor and hit a go-ahead three in the final minutes of Game 2. With Curry and Rodney Hood providing instant offense off the bench, the Blazers have a distinct advantage in terms of depth.
Portland HC Terry Stotts needs to adjust his rotations. He tried to mirror the Rockets’ small-ball lineup with Moe Harkless at the five and Evan Turner at the four during the second half. That kept the Blazers offense rolling, but the Warriors countered with Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko to dominate the boards on both ends.
This was another key mistake by Stotts and an indication that Warriors HC Steve Kerr is simply miles ahead of him in terms of playoff series strategy. Stotts would be wise to start Rodney Hood and move Al-Farouq Aminu to the second unit or give Zach Collins more minutes as a big that can actually control the defensive boards.
If they can win the battle in terms of defensive switches and rebounding, Portland has the tools to pull ahead and stay ahead this time.
McCollum is arguably tougher to guard than Lillard right now. He shot a healthy 47% from the floor at home this year. Then, Portland shot 47.8% from the floor as a team while connecting on 11.9 threes per game at Moda Center.
With Kevin Durant (calf) ruled out of both games in Portland, the Warriors will need Steph Curry to carry the offense as he did with a 37.2% usage rate in Game 2. He’s produced 73 points on 51.1% FG shooting so far in this series and is breaking down Portland’s defense simply by threatening to launch from 35 feet and closer.
Steph actually posted a higher true shooting percentage (.644) on the road this year and shot 46.7% while averaging 31.5 PPG over his last two games at Houston in the conference semis.
While Curry continued his brilliance, Klay Thompson took a bit of a step back with 24 points on 8-for-22 (.364) shooting on Thursday. The Warriors offense was otherwise dependent on Draymond Green rolling to the rim to score or lob to a cutting Kevon Looney for easy hoops.
This is an easy fix for Portland and something we saw Golden State shut down completely when trapping James Harden and rotating to deny his patented lob to Clint Capela last round. If Andre Iguodala (2-for-6 from the floor, 0-for-3 from deep) continues to struggle with his shot and the Warriors get anything less from Shaun Livingston and Alfonzo McKinnie off the bench, they could get into trouble on the road.
The Final Word
While the Warriors managed to pull out a win on Thursday, they were badly outplayed throughout most of this game. On paper, the Blazers should be able to beat this team without Durant. They have advantages across the board with superior athleticism on the wing and the ability to win the battle on the boards.
Yet the Warriors have a certain mystique that is certainly inflamed by the raucous atmosphere at Oracle Arena. Now playing at Moda Center, the Blazers (-2.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook) should be able to put four solid quarters together and earn their first win of the series.
There could be a natural sense of let-up from the Dubs after they engineered that miraculous comeback, as they know they could go back to Golden State 2-2 and still have a significant advantage with Durant potentially ready to return for Game 5.
Portland is 27-19-1 against the spread (ATS) at home this year and 23-17-1 ATS as a home favorite. Portland is also 27-19-1 in terms of going Over the assigned point total in home games, while Warriors road games went 27-20 in terms of going Over.
We recommend taking the Blazers on the short spread or perhaps on the Moneyline (-132 on DraftKings Sportsbook) but wouldn’t have a problem with taking the Over (221 on BetStarsNJ) now that Lillard and McCollum are scoring efficiently enough to ensure these games are decided in the 100s or 110s.
The Pick: Blazers -2.5