Before betting on tonight's Thunder vs. Jazz, keep in mind that Utah sits at 4-7 SU, and OKC is a likewise humbling 3-8 SU, a far cry from their 59-23 regular season of last year.
OKC Thunder vs. Utah Jazz (-4) 9:00 ET
This is a battle of current 'also-rans' in the NBA Western Conference. Utah sits at 4-7 SU, but does not figure to appreciably improve from last seasons’ 25-57 SU record. OKC is a likewise humbling 3-8 SU, a far cry from their 59-23 regular season of last year. The reasons why are clear!
OKC has been humbled by the loss of the league’s best duo, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Last year, OKC averaged 106 PPG, outscoring the opposition by an average of more than 6 PPG. This year, with Durant and Westbrook on the sidelines, OKC has slowed the pace. Without the dynamic duo, OKC is averaging an NBA low 89.5 PPG. The offense dipped to the nadir of its discontent on Sunday in a 69-65 home loss to the Houston Rockets. In that contest, they shot just 29% from the field, making only 3/19 triples. For the season, they are shooting just 42%. Jackson is working hard on the offensive end to keep the Thunder relevant. During that timeframe, he has averaged 22 PPG. It is clear, however, that further balance is needed.
Utah has been led by 2nd year player, Hayward, who is averaging 19 PPG. He is supported by interior forces, Favors, who has averaged 20 PPG in the last 3 games on 70% shooting and Enos Kanter, who has scored at least 16 PPG L3G. On Saturday, the Jazz completed a brutal road trip in which they were playing their 5th game in 7 nights, following a win against the Knicks in NY the previous evening. Utah played valiantly in the first half, but spit the bit in the 2nd half, allowing the high-scoring Raptors to score 65 points in a 111-93 loss. That defensive performance epitomizes many of the Utah problems. Last year, Utah allowed 102 PPG. This year, it is about a point higher at 103 PPG. In the most recent 3 games, the Jazz defense has allowed 50% shooting, including 45% from beyond the arc.
While OKC has struggled on the offensive end, the slower pace and greater defensive intensity have allowed foes to average just 94 PPG. Only 4 teams in the league have a better scoring defense. It is that 8 point differential on the defensive end that is our fundamental edge in today’s contest. From a situational perspective, far prefer an OKC team who looks to bounce back from an embarrassing home court performance in which they scored just 65 points. Under HC Brooks, OKC has been one of the most resilient teams in the NBA in recent seasons. That is one thing that has not changed about the Thunder this season. OKC is 6-1 ATS following a defeat this season. Ride that bounce back to the bank this evening with this NBA pick as this proud franchise bounces back from one of the worst offensive performances in the NBA this season against one of the league’s worst defenses.
Free NBA Picks: Thunder -3 at BetOnline