Portland at Oklahoma City -6.5 O/U 221.5
Important contest for both of these squads as OKC looks to end three game losing streak while Portland is trying to climb into the Western Conference playoff picture (2 games out of the #8 slot). Billy Donovan once again had to let his team know that their defensive focus isn’t playoff caliber after they were shredded for 112 points per game during their recent 0-3 road trip. Expect defense to be the #1 priority tonight for Oklahoma City against the Blazers who put 114 on the Thunder just five nights ago. Portland has had defensive issues of its own since the beginning of February allowing an average of 111.5 ppg and at least 103 in all 11 games. Interesting to note that Portland has scored 114 in each of their home contests vs. OKC but only posted 99 in their lone visit here to Chesapeake Arena. The season matchups have totaled 209, 204 and 223 with the home team covering in all three. Oklahoma City has been especially good at home going 21-9 against the spread thus far this season.
These teams like to play high tempo and each team owns a top 10 NBA ranking in pace but Oklahoma City has an extreme efficiency differential. Despite HC Donovan’s multiple calls for better defense, the Thunder are #10 in defensive efficiency which indicates they can play some when they want to. On the flip side, OKC is 22nd in offensive efficiency which has helped Portland hold them under their season average of 106.1 ppg in two of their three meetings. Expect the defense to be a bit improved tonight especially considering the situations these teams are in right now. That extra defensive intensity should be enough to keep this game under the total.