#Betting101: NBA Weekend Look-Ahead

Jason Lake

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 8:52 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 8:52 PM UTC

With so many games to bet on this weekend, how do you decide which teams belong in your basketball picks? By seeking out the most promising games on the NBA betting board.

Welcome back to #Betting101. This is a special place on the internet, where instead of previewing a high-profile game and picking a side, we start from basic betting principles and try to figure out which games have the most betting value to offer us. Last week, we thought the Houston Rockets might be worth fading in Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, but PG Mike Conley wasn’t available for the Grizz – he’s out indefinitely with a sore Achilles. Oh well. At least the Toronto Raptors continue to print money.

This week, we take a closer look at the curious case of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’re only 7-9 SU and ATS heading into tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors, but Oklahoma City’s level of play has been higher than that; the Thunder have a plus-4.6 point differential, fourth in the Western Conference. They also check in at plus-3.06 on the Simple Rating System at Basketball Reference, also good for fourth in the West. Seems like a team worth putting in our NBA picks.

Gods of Thunder

That certainly wasn’t the case heading into the new season. The Thunder were obvious fade candidates after pulling off the big Paul George trade with the Indiana Pacers – who were obvious follow candidates as a result. When OKC doubled down and acquired Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks, that made it even easier to mash the fade button. While George (plus-2.7 BPM) and Anthony (minus-1.3 BPM) are each scoring over 20 points per game for their new employers, their fledgling Big Three with Russell Westbrook (plus-5.0 BPM) hasn’t set the world on fire just yet.

But it hasn’t been a disaster, either. Last year’s Thunder (47-35 SU, 45-36-1 ATS) finished the year with a plus-0.8 point differential and a plus-1.14 SRS. That was with Westbrook doing the heavy lifting and winning league MVP honors by averaging a triple-double. This year’s team has been somewhat unfortunate in comparison, and they’re 1-7 ATS in games where they’re favored by fewer than five points. Otherwise, they’re 6-2 ATS.

Which brings us to Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks (3-15 SU, 5-13 ATS), tipping off at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. The Mavs aren’t the worst team in the league, judging by their minus-6.7 point differential and minus-5.81 SRS, but they’re still playing very poor basketball. On November 12, the Thunder beat Dallas 112-99 as 10-point home faves on the NBA odds board. Let’s see if they can do it again on the road.

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