Free NBA Picks for Nets vs. Thunder

Jordan Sharp

Thursday, January 2, 2014 2:10 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 2:10 PM GMT

The Oklahoma City Thunder host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night. Let's see if we can start out 2014 with some money!

It’s already been a long season for the Nets, and it might get longer tonight, as the NBA Odds have them as a +12 underdog in Oklahoma City. I can’t even imagine what this spread would be if Russell Westbrook were healthy, but either way, I am more focused on the total, which sits at 204 ½. After a New Years Day of not many games, the league has blessed us with nine games lining the slate tonight.

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No Westy, no problem

This season has already been really bad with injuries, and we are only a third of the way through. However, much like in the playoffs last season, Westbrook going down hasn’t killed the Thunder, and it’s getting them solid production from guys like Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson. Both of these young guys combined are more than capable of filling in for Westbrook while he is out, and it has shown.

This team has been good defensively all season, and in their last ten games, they have limited opponents to only 95 points per game. They are now turning to defense even more with Westbrook out. In their three most recent games since Westbrook went down again, the Thunder have given up an average of only 88 points per game, and against a team like the Nets coming in, I could see the Thunder really lighting them up defensively.

Like most West teams this season, the Thunder have been very good against East teams, while the Nets have struggled when playing teams out west. Brooklyn is only averaging 94 points per game against the other conference, and with the way the Thunder have been playing, I can’t see them putting up big numbers here.

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The Sharp Pick

The Nets have very slowly been getting better on the defensive end, and even without Brook Lopez, they haven’t fully collapsed. They will struggle some tonight without the services of Andray Blatche, who is out again for personal reasons. However even though they aren’t at full strength, I still think the under may have the value this week.

The Nets will probably end up only scoring in the low to mid 90s tonight, and while it’s possible the Thunder go nuts for 115 points, I think 105 is closer to what the final score will be. While the Thunder do play at a very fast pace, with Deron Williams still running the show tonight, the Nets could dictate pace.

The Nets could also have less than 90 points tonight if they collapse against the Thunder defense. They have only put up 91 and 92 respectfully in their last two games, and without much help down low besides Kevin Garnett and rookie Mason Plumlee, the Nets won’t be getting many second chance points against the league’s best rebounding team. This could lead to a night in the 80s for the Nets and a night of profit for us on an under bet.

Even though the over has cashed in five of the last six times these two have played one another, they don’t hook up enough to use this information as a reliable trend. The Thunder’s opponents are only shooting 41.5% from the field this season, and the struggling Nets will likely not go crazy tonight on the road. Look for the Thunder to gain a big lead early and slow the game down to a grind, making the under the play for your NBA picks.

NBA Pick: UNDER 204 ½ 

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