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Blazers vs. Thunder Pick NBA – March 14th

It is the morning after Selection Sunday, so the basketball world is largely fixated with the annual list of tourney snubs. This year’s list feels a little more lengthy (and egregious) given the Committee’s obvious favoring of major middlers over mid-majors, but alas, it is what it is and the Tournament will roll along just fine.

In the meantime, Monday through Wednesday are nice days to shift all the focus to the Pros. Monday boasts a decent slate of action, highlighted by the Bulls trying to stay in the playoff picture at Toronto, who is still angling for a top-seed takeover, and the team they are chasing, Cleveland, heading to Utah to take on a Jazz team that seems to have one last push in them after a nice week of wins.

The Warriors will try to notch their 60th win against just six defeats tonight hosting New Orleans, while the Thunder try to bury a string of tough late defeats against quality opponents when the feisty and explosive Trailblazers.

It’ll be a nice night of NBA action. Let’s see if we can make it better by notching a winner after yesterday’s defeat with Sacramento laying an egg at home against Utah.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Portland Trailblazers at Oklahoma City Thunder -8.5

Let’s just say the Thunder haven’t been getting any coffee lately. Because coffee is for closers.

The team with the second worst record by percentage in the NBA when leading after three quarters (only Philly is worse) has looked less like a title contender and more like the rest of the muddled non-Spurs/Warriors Western Conference lately. They can’t score in the fourth quarter, have lost four of their last six games straight up, and they are a pedestrian 7-14-1 ATS in their last 22 games. Perhaps a return to home will be the recipe to snap them out of the funk, but I’m not sure I’m willing to lay nine points to prove it.

Portland, despite some projections they would be the single WORST TEAM in the NBA (I wasn’t that extreme, but thought this team had NO chance of making the playoffs) is easily in playoff position, and, even the season ended today, would be in the 3/6 matchup with the Thunder. And all of a sudden, the difference between the #6 and #7 seed looks stunningly important. Portland is 16-6 in their last 22 games and 11-5 ATS in their last 16. This team CONTINUES to defy expectations and has made bettors who believed in them a lot of money along the way.

I am not calling the road upset tonight. I think OKC is going to right the course eventually, and probably sooner than later. But given their recent home malaise, 1-3-1 ATS in their last five home games, laying nearly double digits is a pretty steep price.

These two teams have split so far this season with each winning and covering on the other team’s court, but OKC is playing worse and Portland is playing far better than in their previous meetings. Portland has covered seven of their last ten road games and I like them to get yet another road cover tonight.

Free Pick: Portland Trailblazers +8.5