With a win against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, the Portland Trail Blazers will cap off a stunning rally to claim the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Superstar point guard Damian Lillard has spearheaded an inspired Blazers charge, as the squad has surged to a 5-2 record in the Orlando bubble. But despite being undermanned, Brooklyn hasn't been a pushover, logging an identical record to Portland's.
Continue on for abe Insights' betting preview, as we provide you with some key stats to consider, wagers analysis, the best odds across all the major sportsbooks and more for this exciting matchup.
Date: Thursday, August 13
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Blazers 81%; Nets 20%
Spread: POR -10
Moneyline: POR -425; BKN +400
While Lillard deserves a ton of credit for the Blazers' bubble brilliance, center Jusuf Nurkic's return from injury has been extremely vital. Despite cooling off after a hot start in Orlando, Nurkic brings size, rebounding and rim protection the team lacked before.
As for the Nets, well, there's a reason they're a huge underdog. Portland has plenty to play for, and Brooklyn has clinched a postseason berth already. Despite not having Kevin Durant for the whole season, and being without Kyrie Irving in the bubble, among several other key players, the Nets have thrived with their new-look rotation.
28.1 vs. 23.4: One area where the Blazers have a big advantage during this seven-game bubble stretch is offensive rebound percentage. They're in the league's top six in the category, while Brooklyn slots in at 17th out of 22 bubble teams.
121.6 vs. 114.6: Portland has the NBA's highest offensive rating in Orlando (or points per 100 possessions). Surprisingly, the Nets rank ninth in the Association, and have averaged over 118.6 points per contest during a three-game winning streak.
65.3 vs. 54.0: These squads have gone about offensive efficiency in drastically different ways. Brooklyn is second only to Miami in bubble assist percentage, and Portland ranks dead-last, as Lillard and other Blazers have thrived largely creating their own offense as opposed to moving the ball and making extra passes.
Hey, who can complain about hero ball when it's working so well? All Lillard did the last time out was score 61 points in leading Portland to a 134-131 victory over the playoff-bound Mavericks. The Blazers' face of the franchise leads all bubble players in averaging 37 points on shooting splits of 48.5/41.4/88.7.
Two Nets players are averaging over 20 points in Orlando: Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. The latter has been an excellent, overlooked shooter his entire NBA career, and his fully capitalizing on his chance at extended action. LeVert is beginning to realize his upside as a true franchise cornerstone with more efficient scoring, too.
One potential red flag for Portland is how much Nurkic has regressed since the beginning of the bubble. He's averaging nearly five fouls per game and fouled out of two of the past three, and faces a tough head-to-head battle on Thursday opposite Nets big man Jarrett Allen, who's averaging 16 points, 11 boards and over four assists in Orlando.
If the frontcourt battle is a struggle for the Blazers, though, they do have another explosive guard in CJ McCollum who, if he's on, Brooklyn doesn't really have an answer for. Props to McCollum, too, who's reportedly playing through a fractured back to help Portland make a playoff push and is averaging close to 20-5-5 in the last seven contests.
Sentiment bias and the greater visibility of Portland's players are going to push public betting sentiment to the Blazers' moneyline and spread. But given the high number for the favorites to cover and how lucrative Brooklyn's moneyline is, savvy bettors may ride the Nets instead.
As for Over/Under wagers, Lillard has been on an absolute tear and is elevating the Blazers as a whole, and it seems like everyone on the Nets is stepping up. Thus, despite the high point total, action is likely to favor the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 2:05 p.m. ET on Thursday, August 13.
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