Western Conference Face-off: Betting Analysis on OKC Thunder vs. Portland Trail Blazers

January 4, 2019 | insideinjuries | No Comments

Two of the Western Conferences’ top 5 teams face off tonight in Portland, a game that could turn into a major Western Conference showdown as playoff seeding draws nearer. OKC’s Thunder are looking to hold onto their No. 2 spot, as a loss would likely drop them below the Warriors at No. 3. The Blazers currently hold the No. 5 spot, but a win tonight could bring them to No. 4, surpassing the Rockets.

Only a few games separate these teams records. The Thunder are 24-13 while the Blazers are 22-16. The matchup is expected to be so close that the lines are currently even in Vegas. A few books have the line favoring Portland by -1, but we aren’t so sure that’s how things are going to shake out.

Each team’s injury concerns are also almost identical. Neither team has a starter dealing with an injury (with the exception of Andre Roberson being out all season with a left knee injury), and each team’s Overall Injury Risk is Elevated. There is a small discrepancy here though. While both team’s Injury Risk is Elevated, the Thunder’s team Injury Risk is 24%, which is five points higher than the Blazers’ team Injury Risk at 19%. OKC’s Injury Risk is sitting on the cusp of Elevated and High, meaning they are more susceptible to suffering or aggravating an injury in tonight’s game. Russell Westbrook is currently sitting at a High Injury Risk due to his recent knee issues and severe ankle sprain, but he leads the team in rebounds, assists, and steals. If he aggravates his knee or suffers a new injury tonight, the Blazers will have a big advantage. The Thunder’s top scorer, Paul George, is also a High Injury Risk. Having their two best players at less than 100%

Now let’s look at each team’s Health Performance Factor (our metric for measuring player performance). Both teams also fall into the Peak category, so they should be playing their best. The Thunder have a higher HPF (83%), while the Blazers are sitting right on the line between Peak and Above Average (80%). This means we expect the Thunder to play better, despite their few injury concerns.

Essentially, OKC’s higher Injury Risk means their starting 5 are more likely to suffer an injury in tonight’s matchup. OKC’s two best players are at a High Risk of suffering an injury, which puts the team in a vulnerable situation. If either Paul George or Russell Westbrook are injured, the Blazers should be largely favored. But if OKC can manage to avoid an injury tonight, they should perform better, according to the Inside Injuries algorithm.