Let’s delve into what has been going on with these two squads and how they could perform against the NBA betting odds.
Russell Westbrook: Get Well Soon
Since the Thunder guard went down and needed another surgery Oklahoma City is 5-5 and 4-6 ATS, hardly championship caliber basketball. Nonetheless, everyone including NBA basketball handicappers understand they don’t hand out trophies in January, thus weathering the storm helps toughen teams for days ahead.
Probably the greatest concern coming into tonight’s game is the Thunder’s offense, which is either sharp or off kilter. No question not having Westbrook is the main reason for the inconsistency, but some are also baffled by coach Scott Brooks insistence to start center Kendrick Perkins and forward Thabo Sefolosha, when they are frequently are not playing the critical minutes late when a game is on the line.
Reggie Jackson has done an adequate job filling in for Westbrook and off their three-point loss at Memphis on Tuesday; OKC is 6-3 SU and ATS after a defeat.
Houston Could be Headed Upward
The Rockets are in fifth place in the Western Conference and they believe as a team they are ready to take flight, with ambitions on having the second or third-best record out West.
While this kind of thinking might sound foolhardy to those who review the NBA odds daily, it’s not as crazy as it sounds.
For starters, James Harden has missed six games all-together and been far less than 100 percent healthy in a least another half dozen. Forward Chandler Parsons has missed five contests and should be back to close healthy any day now.
Dwight Howard continues to grow in this offense and the last month due to work in practice, the explosiveness around the basket is returning as his back is stronger after last season’s surgery. The big man is third in the Association in rebounding.
A potential precursor of things to come is the metric – effective field goal percentage. A lot of sharp bettors making sports picks review these types of numbers and this takes into account a three-point basket is 50 percent more than a conventional two-pointer. (eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 x 3PTM)) / FGA)
The top two teams in this category are Miami (56.2%) and San Antonio (54.1%) and they have the third and best records in the NBA respectively. The Rockets are currently third at 52.9 percent, lending belief they could be poised to excel.
Coming off their fourth quarter come from behind win at New Orleans last night, Houston is 8-2 SU and ATS this season with no rest.
The early line from sportsbooks had Houston as -2.5 with a total of 206. Here is a wacky figure on the Rockets, especially considering most matchups on this night are intended to be relatively close because it is a showcase night on TNT. Houston is 37-15-3 ATS playing on Thursday’s in their recent history.
Playing with a day between games, Oklahoma City is a terrific 20-5, but just 12-13 ATS, however, the scoring margin is +6.5 points per game.
After this matchup, the Thunder will be home for three games, with the first and last the most challenging facing Golden State and Portland. Focus should not be an issue this evening.
This tussle should have Houston’s full attention since they have a virtual “gimme” with Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Head to Head
Oklahoma City won the earlier meeting 19 days ago 117-86 as a 4.5-point home favorite, and has won four the previous games at Houston with three covers. The Under is 5-1 in recent matchups, but that includes the playoffs from last spring, otherwise, the Over is 4-1 in the past five regular contests.
I’ll take Houston to win and cover in our NBA picks because I like the way they are playing more consistently at the present time.
NBA Pick – Houston by 4 points