Free NBA Picks for Thunder vs. 76ers

Jason Lake

Saturday, January 25, 2014 7:00 AM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 7:00 AM UTC

Kevin Durant is so hot right now, he got the Oklahoma City Thunder to the pay window Friday night without even stepping on the court. The Philadelphia 76ers weren’t so lucky against the NBA lines.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 24 inclusive:

53-40-1 ATS

13-10 Totals

Who needs Kevin Durant? Not the Oklahoma City Thunder – at least not on Friday night, when Durant took an unannounced maintenance day against the Boston Celtics. I had the Thunder as 6.5-point road faves on the early NBA lines; without Durant, the spread moved to OKC –2.5, but it was all good. The Thunder crushed the Celtics 101-83 while KD gave his sore right shoulder a rest.

Durant will presumably be back in action on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET) when Oklahoma City visits the Philadelphia 76ers, who earned us another fade-tastic payday with a 104-95 loss to the Toronto Raptors (–6.5 away). It was actually a competitive game until the Raptors pulled away in the final frame, but this one’s not likely to be so competitive. We’ll see what the basketball odds have to say when they’re released. You should have them by now.

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The Lamb Lies Down on Beantown

We’ve been preaching about the power of Oklahoma City’s reserve squad during healthy times, and that’s exactly what we saw in Friday’s game against Boston. The hero on this occasion was sophomore SG Jeremy Lamb (14.4 PER), who played 30 minutes off the bench and scored 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Lamb also grabbed six rebounds as OKC (34-10 SU, 26-18 ATS) won the battle on the boards, 45-32.

Credit also goes to sophomore SF Perry Jones (11.8 PER), who took Durant’s spot in the starting lineup and, like a mini-Durant, did a little bit of everything: 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Jones and Lamb have had their good days and their bad days this season, but everything worked well on Friday when the team needed them the most.

Five Guys Named Mud

The Sixers (14-29 SU, 18-25 ATS) could use some of that bench strength – if they weren’t so busy driving their tank to the 2014 NBA Draft. You’ve seen their starting unit play competitive basketball, especially rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams (17.8 PER). And you’re probably already aware how bad the Philly reserves are. But things are even worse now, thanks to that gosh-darned injury bug. Here’s the full list:

SG Tony Wroten (ankle)

PF Brandon Davies (finger)

PF Arnett Moultrie (ankle)

C Nerlens Noel (knee)

SG/SF Jason Richardson (knee)

Moultrie, Noel and Richardson have been out since Day One, but the other two guys are more recent arrivals on the injured list. Wroten (12.6 PER) was a game-time decision on Friday, and coach Brett Brown said he’d be out “a couple more days,” which would suggest Wroten won’t face the Thunder. Davies (5.8 PER) is out the next 4-6 weeks after having surgery on his dislocated right pinky finger (ow ow ow ow ow) on Tuesday.

Will Arnett?

There’s good news on the horizon for Philly fans – the ones who don’t want to tank, that is. Brown says that Moultrie (16.7 PER last year) could return at any time in the next two weeks, one he gets his conditioning back after last September’s ankle surgery. When Moultrie does return, he should be a significant upgrade over Lavoy Allen (11.6 PER). And there’s even a chance that Noel will see some action this year after he was cleared for basketball activities earlier this month by everyone’s favorite medico, Dr. James Andrews.

All fine and dandy, but unless Moultrie makes a surprise return on Saturday, the Thunder should easily roll over the depleted Sixers. And even if he does play, he’ll have to deal with some very nasty characters, like Kendrick Perkins (5.4 personal fouls per 36 minutes) and Steven Adams (6.9 fouls/36). Enjoy your elbow soup, monsieur.

NBA Pick: Take the Thunder

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