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The NBA's regular season had no shortage of drama. Why not add a play-in to sweeten the pot?
Beginning Saturday, the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies will duke it out for the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The eighth-seeded Blazers will only need to win once, while the Grizzlies will need to claim two games over the weekend to make the postseason. Here's everything you need to know about Saturday's high-stakes matchup from a betting perspective.
Spread: Trail Blazers -6
Oddsmakers couldn't set Portland's totals in the bubble high enough.
Both the Blazers and their opponent went over the team total in four of Portland's final five games. In fact, seven of the eight teams the Blazers played cashed the team total over; ironically, only the Houston Rockets' No. 2-ranked scoring offense went under against Portland.
The Blazers like to push the ball with a bit of pace. They're No. 12 in the NBA in possessions at 104.5. Portland's been running with a lot more juice of late, though, averaging 108 possessions over its last three games.
Most trends point to the over, as they typically do with Blazers games. The over is 6-0 in Portland's last six contests as a favorite and 4-0 in the team's last four on one day of rest.
Memphis won and covered as four-point chalk over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday to force the play-in. The Grizzlies will be back in the underdog role Saturday, but it's not a situation they've fared particularly well in of late.
Memphis went 1-4 against the spread as a 'dog inside the bubble and is 1-6 ATS over its last seven games in that role. The Grizzlies are also on a 0-4 run ATS following a straight-up win and have covered just two of their last nine contests overall.
Scoring in the bubble is way up, which isn't surprising given the relaxed environment.
Although there still won't be fans in attendance, expect the atmosphere Saturday to be anything but relaxing in a potential win-or-go-home scenario.
These two clubs flew over the total in their last meeting two weeks ago. They also combined for a whopping 84 free-throw attempts, while Portland shot a blistering 54% from the field.
Because of these factors, the total is a tad inflated. My best recommendation would be to take the under 232.5. Expect to see more defensive intensity as we enter the playoffs, starting with Saturday's matchup.
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.