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NBA expert Eytan Shander brings us three picks for Game 1 of this weekend's play-in series

It’s come down to the play-in series between the Blazers and Grizzlies. Only after a winner is declared can we start the real playoffs and see which of these two teams stands the best shot at pushing the Lakers. The clear favorite is Portland; not only with the books but the public, but make no mistake about Memphis, they will throw everything at the Blazers today. There are a couple of good angles to take home some money with true value on the board!

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

BET: Blazers -5.5 @ -122

This should be a blowout as the Blazers are simply the better team on the floor. The loss of Jaren Jackson Jr. still haunts the Grizzlies, and they may try and shoot their way out of poor defense. Not going to work against the Blazers, who will run with anyone. The other problem is the depth at the front court vs. what Memphis throws out after Jonas Valanciunas. The Blazers have three guys to throw at Memphis’ big man, which is going to hurt the Grizzlies offensive productivity. 6.5 is still a lot to cover under any circumstances in this bubble, so I bought the extra point and only wound up paying a little more – Blazers 6.5 is -104 at FanDuel – for the extra security. I do like Portland to get up and stay up, the issue is always a back-door cover. But the Blazers aren’t in rest mode and should have starters in deep, even with a bigger lead.

BET: Over 233.5 @ +100

The tempo of this game should be pretty fast as rest mode is over for both of these teams. While the Grizzlies have been docked a little due to injury, the Blazers are coming out firing. In fact, without Jackson Jr. the Blazers will have a huge roadblock removed to the basket. Even if we see a bunch of misses early on, the game’s speed won’t slow down. It’s a big number here to cover, as we see the low 230’s can be hit or miss. In this case it hits because of the magnitude of the game, and how much Memphis will get to the FT line. The Blazers have slashers and big men who can both get to the line. I’m confident the Grizzlies can see both Ja Morant and Valanciunas attack the Blazers middle, even unsuccessfully they can still get some FTs. Made free throws might be the difference in this game hitting the over.

BET: CJ McCollum Under 22.5 Points @ +108

This whole run has been fueled by Damian Lillard dominating everyone on the floor. There’s still concern about CJ’s health heading into this game – and any more the team winds up playing. The last times these two teams played Lillard struggled from the floor, but JJ Jr. was still playing for Memphis and the overall defense was better. This is still the Dame show and the looks will be there for Lillard all day. Morant is going to have to put in overtime on both ends of the floor, and Memphis knows it can’t really double Dame either. The health concerns for McCollum combined with the absolute tear that Lillard is on, make a tough yet sound decision to go under CJ’s total points. I do think he gets close, but we should expect a healthy dose of shooting from other players including Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr.


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