For The Trail Blazers And Oregon Bettors, The NBA Playoffs Start This Weekend

Posted on August 14, 2020 - Last Updated on August 24, 2020

Portland’s path back to the Western Conference Finals begins Saturday. In a similar fashion, this weekend could be one of the hottest for basketball bettors in Oregon, with the Trail Blazers play-in game just a highlight of the action.

Portland faces the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday on ABC at 11:30 a.m. PT. There are other NBA seeding games tonight, and WNBA regular-season contests this weekend as well.

Sizing up the Trail Blazers play-in game, or games

Both Memphis and Portland have finished their eight seeding-round games, with the Trail Blazers posting the better winning percentage when the Trail Blazers’ balance of regular-season games played before the NBA suspended its season in March is figured in. Normally, that would give them an edge for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

This season is anything but normal, however. The outstanding issue is that before the break, the Grizzlies had played one fewer game than Portland. So, to account for that, the two teams will play at least one head-to-head game.

Going into Saturday’s tip, there are a few scenarios. Because the Trail Blazers currently own the better winning percentage, they do have the upper hand. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Portland wins Saturday: The Trail Blazers are the eighth seed, Memphis’ season is over, and there won’t be another game between these two teams Sunday
  • Memphis wins Saturday and Portland wins Sunday: The Trail Blazers are the eighth seed and the Grizzlies’ season is over
  • Memphis wins Saturday and Sunday: The Grizzlies are the eighth seed and the Trail Blazers’ season is over

The Blazers come in as the healthier of the two teams, as the Grizzlies are without forward Jaren Jackson Jr. Speaking of injuries, Portland’s CJ McCollum has been playing despite a fractured back.

This game might come down to the matchup between the NBA restart’s leading scorer and an odds-on favorite for this year’s Rookie of the Year award. The Blazers’ Damian Lillard has been racking up the points on a nightly basis while the Grizzlies’ Ja Morant has proven himself capable of leading an NBA team.

Containing Morant and the rest of Memphis’ cast will be a primary concern for Portland on Saturday. Sportsbooks aren’t high on the Blazers’ defense, and for good reason.

Betting action on Saturday’s play-in game

Portland has been winning games during the seeding round simply by outscoring opponents, largely thanks to “Dame.” For example, the Blazers needed overtime to overcome the Grizzlies’ 135 points when these two teams met on July 31.

The question is, when will the load that Lillard has been carrying catch up to him? If it’s Saturday, that may lead to a Portland loss, but it may not affect the line on the point total in this game.

As of 10 a.m. PT on Friday, Oregon Lottery’s Scoreboard doesn’t have markets live for Saturday’s game. Another sportsbook that will debut in OR soon, however, does.

BetMGM, which plans to open a retail sportsbook at Spirit Mountain Casino later this year, has its total for Saturday’s game set at 233.5 right now. The odds are even on both sides of the market at -110.

Scoreboard should have markets live for Saturday’s game closer to tip-off, so check in frequently if you want to bet the game. There’s no reason to wait if you want to get some skin in some basketball games now, however.

Scoreboard’s NBA, WNBA markets available now

All the NBA teams in action Friday are essentially locked into their positions for the postseason, so it’s uncertain how many will play their starters and even if they do, how long they will play. The condensed schedule puts a great emphasis on managing players’ minutes.

For that reason, bettors will need to watch teams’ social media accounts for starting lineups. Scoreboard has markets live for all four of Friday’s NBA games, including moneylines, spreads, totals, and numerous props.

That goes for Friday’s WNBA games as well. While the Los Angeles Sparks are idle, the Seattle Storm face the Dallas Wings. Seattle is a -1,050 favorite, as veteran point guard Sue Bird is set to return to the lineup.

Dallas will be without rookie forward Satou Sabally in the game because of an ankle injury. Wings rookie guard Ty Harris might miss the game due to a hand injury as well.

Bird’s return and Dallas’ short bench makes the over on Scoreboard’s market for the Storm’s point total in the game look attractive. Currently, the line sits at 85.5 with odds on the over sitting at -115.

There are better odds in other markets, however. For example, taking Seattle to win by 7-9 points currently offers a payout of +675.

The coming weekend should be entertaining for basketball fans in Oregon, especially if Portland can prevail on Saturday or Sunday. For those who bet successfully, that will just add to the fun.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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