Crucial matchup in the Western Conference on Thursday night as the Portland Trailblazers host the Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center. These teams are part of a three way tie for third place in the Western Conference. The Thunder, Blazers and Houston Rockets all check in at 39-25 on the season putting them 3.5 games back of second place Denver and 5 back of West leading Golden State. They may soon have some company–the Utah Jazz have been playing very well in recent weeks winning 7 of 10 and are now 7 games out of first place–meaning that they are just 2 games from making the three way tie a quartet.
The Thunder have bigger issues at the moment as well. They’ve not been playing well over the past two weeks and enter this contest on a 2-6 SU/0-8 ATS run. That performance is a dramatic turnaround from late January and early February when they won 6 of 7 both straight up and against the number. Oklahoma City’s two victories in their current run were very hard fought beating Utah at home 148-147 but failing to cover as -3.5 home chalk. They beat Memphis at home on Sunday winning 99-95 but fell short over covering as -9.5 favorites. They immediately turned around and lost 131-120 at Minnesota as -2 point road favorites.
When a team goes on a bad run against the pointspread it can mean a number of things. Obviously it can mean that they’re not playing well at the moment and that’s definitely the case here. More importantly, however, it can indicate that the team in question is overpriced relative to their line value. This is likely true about Oklahoma City right now. This type of pointspread turnaround is very common after a lengthy run of ATS success. Starting in early January, OKC covered 10 of 12 and that’s the type of run that has the ‘public’ jumping on a team’s bandwagon.
Oklahoma City is in a tough place to turn things around. The Blazers have been in very good form over the past few weeks although they’re coming off a loss at Memphis. That’s an ‘excusable’ loss as it came at the end of a very successful road trip during which Portland won 5 of 6 straight up going 6-0 ATS prior to the Grizzlies game. This was a very important road trip for the Blazers who haven’t always been a strong road team and they passed it with ‘flying colors’. Now they return home where they’ve been nasty all year long. Blazers teams are always a tough opponent at home in the ‘Rose City’ and this year Portland is 24-8 SU/21-11-0 ATS at the Moda Center. They’ve been excellent when laying points going 27-9 SU/23-13 ATS as a favorite overall and 20-7 SU/17-10 ATS as a home favorite.
Given the disparate form of the two teams the price looks very reasonable. While the standings might suggest that these teams are ‘evenly matched’ on a neutral floor they sure haven’t looked that way of late. Oklahoma City has covered the last three head to head but prior to that Portland covered six straight. OKC will have to go from this game to another tough game against the LA Clippers just 24 hours later while the Blazers have two days before a game against lowly Phoenix. Blazers should roll here.