Bet Rockets +4 vs. Thunder for NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:37 AM GMT

Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014 10:37 AM GMT

The Oklahoma City Thunder just got handed one of the biggest upsets of the NBA betting season. And their next game is against the sizzling Houston Rockets, who have won 15 of their last 17 games at 11-6 ATS.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 9 inclusive:

79-60-1 ATS

21-19 Totals

The surgery was successful, but the patient didn’t make it. I had OVER 228 in Sunday’s matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers, and as expected, Oklahoma City’s defense had another bad day at the office, allowing Jodie Meeks to score 42 points. Yes, Jodie Meeks. Unfortunately for us, the Thunder offense couldn’t keep up, shooting 42 percent from the floor and 67 percent from the free-throw line in a 114-110 Lakers victory. Close but no cigar, Holmes.

Stupid NBA totals. No worries, though: Tuesday’s game between the Thunder and the Houston Rockets looks like a good opportunity to jump back onto the point spread, given how well the Rockets have been performing lately. Oklahoma City is a 3.5-point home chalk on the NBA odds board as we go to press.

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Harden Schmarden

Naturally, we’re going to be hearing a lot about James Harden (22.5 PER) going into this matchup. The last time we saw Harden in an Oklahoma City uniform was during the 2012 NBA Finals; instead of signing Harden to a juicy contract extension, the Thunder traded him to Houston for a package including Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb (14.0 PER) and draft picks, one of which was used on Steven Adams (11.0 PER). So much for having a Big Three in OKC.

In the short term, the Thunder had the first laugh when they eliminated the Rockets in six games (3-3 ATS) during the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. These are two different teams now. Martin bailed for the Minnesota Timberwolves during the offseason, while Houston made a very big splash in signing Dwight Howard (22.5 PER). Yet the Thunder still managed to win both their games against Houston this year, SU and ATS. And they did it without Russell Westbrook (23.3 PER).

Go Big or Go Home

Oh dear. Westbrook appears to have shaken off the effects of his latest knee surgery, but he is still Russell Westbrook, and that means you’re occasionally going to get a game like Sunday’s. Westbrook filled the stat sheet with 20 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals, but he also turned the ball over eight times, and he needed 23 shots to make those 20 points. Not good.

OKC supporters might be getting all angsty about Westbrook, but they should be more worried about what’s going on at shooting guard. Thabo Sefolosha (11.0 PER) and his lockdown defense are unavailable for the next couple of weeks, thanks to a strained calf, and the Thunder have suffered because of it. That outburst by Meeks was preceded by a 41-point explosion from Gerald Green in last Thursday’s 128-122 loss to the Phoenix Suns (+6 at home).

2013-14 NBA Championship Betting Futures

Not You Again

Which brings us back to Harden. Sefolosha held him in check during their two meetings this season, finishing a combined plus-20 to Harden’s minus-23. Who’s going to take care of him on Tuesday (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV)? Oklahoma City has been starting Perry Jones (11.3 PER) in an oversized lineup, but Jones has played limited minutes the past couple of games in favor of newcomer Caron Butler (6.2 PER in 79 minutes), who was a team-worst minus-23 against the Suns and a team-worst minus-15 against the Lakers.

If that weren’t a scary enough proposition for Thunder fans, Harden is coming off a 41-point night in a 118-113 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers (+6.5 away), who blew a 13-point lead with under seven minutes remaining in regulation. Fear the beard. And may the sphere be with you.

NBA Pick: Take the Rockets +4 at BetDSI
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