Friday Night NBA Picks: Bet Wizards +6.5 vs. Thunder

David Lawrence

Friday, January 2, 2015 7:05 PM GMT

Friday, Jan. 2, 2015 7:05 PM GMT

The Washington Wizards are winding their way toward the end of a road swing through Texas and Oklahoma. They won in Houston against the Rockets but then fell short in Dallas against the Mavericks. How will they fare on Friday in Oklahoma City against the Thunder where they’re a dog on the NBA betting lines?

The Washington Wizards Can Win Because…
They will be entering this game with plenty of rest. The Wizards lost by 27 in Dallas against the Mavericks on Tuesday, but while a lot of people could very easily just look at that result and presume that Washington is fundamentally struggling. However, that would really miss the mark. Washington won in Houston the night before against the Houston Rockets, winning a tight one-point game and having to scratch and claw right to the end to do it. The Wizards put forth a lot of energy in that game, and since they had to play Dallas the very next night, they predictably did not have the same juice Dallas had. The Wizards are a very strong defensive team, but being asked to hold down James Harden and Dwight Howard one night and then Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki the next is much too much to ask of a team. That’s just a brutal back-to-back set of games on the schedule.

Now that the Wizards have been able to rest on both Wednesday and Thursday, they should be ready to play defense at the level they can realistically attain. The Wizards are tied for second in the Eastern Conference, allowing an average of 97.4 points per game. Defense has been a constant strength for the Wizards this season, and Oklahoma City might feel constrained against Washington’s pressure. Oklahoma City will have had only one day off before this game, not two, and the Thunder had to play overtime to beat Phoenix on Wednesday night.

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder Can Win Because…
They've gotten Kevin Durant back, which is pretty big. Durant returned to the lineup for OKC on Wednesday night against Phoenix and torched the Suns, scoring 44 points. Durant was 13 of 23 from the field, 6 of 11 on 3-pointers, and 12 of 12 at the foul line. He added 10 rebounds and seven assists to help the Thunder win on a night when Russell Westbrook got ejected for taunting Phoenix players shortly after getting into a fight with Alex Len of the Suns. Durant’s ability to fill it up makes Oklahoma City a complete team, not just an almost-complete team with Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are the only team outside the Western Conference playoff picture (the top eight seeds) with a positive point differential. The Thunder actually have a better differential – plus 1.9 points – than eighth-place Phoenix (1.6 points). What should also be said about the Thunder is that they defend even better than the Wizards, allowing only 97.2 points per game. With that kind of defense, OKC should be just fine against Washington.

 

Outlook
The presence of Durant on the court is such an obvious and central factor here, but Washington is rested. Because Durant is working his way back into the OKC lineup, the Wizards might be the more coordinated and blended team. Take Washington listed at +6.5 on NBA odds with your NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Washington +6.5 at 5Dimes

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