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Red-hot Thunder host Blazers on Tuesday
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/31/2013  at  5:26:00 AM
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PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (24-7)

at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (25-5)

Tip-off: Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -5, Total: 213.5

The Trail Blazers look to stop a two-game losing streak on Tuesday when they visit the Thunder who have won three straight contests.

Portland was the victim of back-to-back, last-second shots in its past two games with its most recent loss coming Monday night against the Pelicans, 110-108. That marked the club's seventh straight ATS defeat, but it is still 18-13 ATS overall and 10-6 ATS (12-4 SU) on the road this season. The Thunder, on the other hand, are 12-1 SU (9-4 ATS) in their past 13 games after their most recent home blowout of the Rockets on Sunday, in which they prevailed 117-86. These two teams met earlier this month on Dec. 4 when the Trail Blazers came away with a 111-104 win-and-cover at home. That improved Oklahoma City to 7-2 SU (6-2-1 ATS) in this series over the past three seasons, which includes a 3-1 (SU and ATS) mark at home. Both teams have positive betting trends, as the Thunder are 25-14 ATS (64%) after scoring 110+ points over the past two seasons, but Portland is 93-59 ATS (61%) when playing its second road game in two days since 1996. On the injury front, PG Russell Westbrook (knee) is out indefinitely for the Thunder while C.J. McCollum (foot) is set to return some time in the near future for Blazers.

Can the Blazers slow down the red-hot Thunder on Tuesday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets in December, going 62% ATS (61-37-1) including 69% ATS (35-16-1) since Dec. 16. During the month, StatFox Zach has a huge 79% ATS mark (15-4-1) and is currently 59% ATS (26-18-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 67% ATS (14-7) Best Bets record in December and is 53% ATS (24-21) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary is 63% ATS (12-7) in December Best Bets, while StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (11-8) in December Best Bets. Since Dec. 18, StatFox Brian is 6-3 ATS.

The Trail Blazers have gotten off to an incredible start to this season, but they are coming off of two devastating losses. They have now been beaten with just seconds left in two games in a row and are facing a great Thunder team. Luckily for PG Damian Lillard (21.1 PPG, 5.8 APG), the Thunder will be without star PG Russell Westbrook, so the second-year pro should be able to score much easier and use less energy defensively. PF LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging 23.0 PPG and 9.4 RPG over the past five contests, will also have a mismatch going against a much smaller Serge Ibaka. Aldridge should be able to shoot mid-range jumpers over Ibaka whenever he pleases. The duo of Lillard and Aldridge is the main reason Portland leads the NBA in scoring at 108.6 PPG. Although they rank fourth in the league in both rebounds (46.0 RPG) and assists (24.0 APG), the Blazers give up 102.9 PPG (4th-most in NBA). SG Nicolas Batum could be the X-factor in this game, however. Batum averages 14.1 PPG on the season, but he has just 19 total points in the past two Portland losses. He must score more and be much more involved if the Blazers are going to get back to their winning ways.

The Thunder were delivered a blow when they found out Russell Westbrook would be out until after the All-Star break, but they have performed well in his absence. SF Kevin Durant is averaging 33.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 5.5 APG over the past two games, and he looks poised to perform at an even higher level without his right-hand man. Oklahoma City will be able to get up and down the court with the Blazers as they average 106.1 PPG (3rd in NBA), but the Thunder are much more sound defensively, as they allow just 97.6 PPG (8th in NBA) and lead the NBA in rebounding at 47.4 RPG. PG Reggie Jackson slots into Russell Westbrook’s starting spot and he has been excellent this season, as he averages 12.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 3.6 APG in just 25.0 MPG. SG Jeremy Lamb must step it up off the bench, and recently he has done just that, as he had a career-high 22 points in the win over Houston, as well as five rebounds and five assists.

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