1/18/2010 2:05:00 PM
The Thunder have a winning record on the road while going a great 13-6 ATS when traveling. Atlanta is great at home, but the Thunder have beaten better Western teams.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the most improved teams in the NBA, and we look for them to showcase their young talent again today when they visit the Atlanta Hawks in a Martin Luther King Day matinee.
Free NBA Pick: Thunder +5½ (-110)
Kevin Durant still fills the stat sheet nightly for the Thunder, as he leads the team in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, steals and blocks. That said, while he is obviously the team leader, Oklahoma City is no longer a one-man show, as Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green are bother averaging double-digits in points and Westbrook leads the club with 7.4 assists per game.
The result of all this is that the Thunder have a winning record this season at 22-18 after having one of the worst records in the NBA last season. Even more impressive has been their play on the road, where Oklahoma City has a winning 10-9 straight up mark and a fantastic 13-6, 68.4 percent record against the spread. They are even outscoring their opponents on the road by an average of +1.2 points per game.
Now the Hawks are not chopped liver and they are 16-4 SU and 14-6 ATS at home. That said, the Thunder went 2-0 ATS in the head-to-head meetings last season, and while the Hawks are just as good as they were in 2008-09, Oklahoma City is obviously much improved. In fact, if you want to go back further, the Thunder/Sonics franchise is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings with Atlanta.
Granted, that goes back a bit too far for our liking considering that these clubs face each other just twice a year, but returning to the here and now, the Thunder have snuck up on many teams this season on the road that do not realize just how good this team is, and we look for the same thing to happen today vs. what may be an overconfident Eastern Conference team.
Take the points here as we would not be at all surprised if an Oklahoma City team that has become accustomed to facing the tougher teams in the West emerges here with an outright upset.