Listed as 6-point favorites in NBA odds, the Oklahoma City Thunder look to win their second straight game on Monday in Denver in a tough second of a back-to-back. Check out our picks ATS & on the total here.
Thunder a Playoff Team?
Oklahoma City comes off a 131-108 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Kevin Durant had 29 points and Russell Westbrook 19 points and 11 rebounds. Shoot, there was even a Mitch McGary sighting as the rookie had 19 points and 10 rebounds. He hasn't played much this season, although he has been injured mostly. OKC shot 52.3 percent and outscored the Clippers 31-12 from the free-throw line. The Thunder also had 30 points in transition to just 10 for Los Angeles, which played without All-Star forward Blake Griffin.
It was an important win, I believe, because the Thunder were gut punched in their previous game, a 116-113 loss to New Orleans on Anthony Davis' miracle buzzer-beating 3-pointers. That dropped the Thunder back to .500 and you know they didn't want to fall a game under break even. Oklahoma City (26-25) is currently 10th in the West, two games behind No. 8 Phoenix. You know the Warriors don't want the Thunder to get that No. 8 seed presuming Golden State holds onto the No. 1. If Durant can stay on the court I do think the Thunder grab that eighth seed. It's going to be tough to climb any higher than that.
The Thunder are 22-27-2 against the NBA betting spread this season and 20-31 'over/under.'
Nuggets' Season Already Lost
Denver (19-32) has no such playoff illusions, and I wonder if Brian Shaw might be the next NBA coach fired after Sacramento's Mike Malone and Orlando's Jacque Vaughn. Shaw was a highly-regarded assistant when the Nuggets hired him but he's taken a team that was a postseason fixture under former coach George Karl (who might be hired by the Kings any day now) and gone 55-78. True, injuries have played a big role in that, but I expected the Nuggets to compete for a playoff spot this year after acquiring Arron Afflalo this past offseason from Orlando. Now the team might be a seller ahead of the Feb. 19 trade deadline. Afflalo is one of the guys available, but the Nuggets want a first-round pick for him. Wilson Chandler could be had as well. The guy who would bring the most back is point guard Ty Lawson.
The Nuggets have been very streaky this season and are on a bad one right now, having lost five straight and 12 of 13 -- that coming after a five-game winning streak. Denver will be much more rested in this one as the Nuggets have been off since losing 98-88 in Detroit on Friday. Guard Jameer Nelson (left Achilles' strain) and center JaVale McGee (flu-like symptoms) both missed that game. Nelson is questionable here but McGee is likely to play. The Nuggets have a few other guys fighting the flu bug as well.
The Nuggets are 19-29-3 against the spread this season and 21-28-2 'over/under' on NBA odds.
The teams have split, each winning at home. On Nov. 1 the Thunder were 4.5-point home underdogs on NBA odds because they were without both Durant and Westbrook but won 102-91. That was the game after Westbrook broke his hand. Perry Jones scored 23 points to lead Oklahoma City while Serge Ibaka had 23 as well. Reggie Jackson was out too. Lawson led Denver with 25 points. On Nov. 19, the Nuggets were 7-point home favorites at sportsbooks and won 107-100. Durant and Westbrook missed that one too. Chandler led the Nuggets with 21 points while current Cleveland Cavalier Timofey Mozgov had 17. Lawson had 15 points and 15 assists. Ibaka had 22 points and 13 boards for the Thunder.
Before placing your NBA pick, understand that although the Thunder at full strength are clearly the better team, the hardest back-to-back in the NBA is playing that second game in the thin air of Denver. OKC is 1-4 ATS in its past 10 road games. The home team has covered the past four meetings in this series. The over is 5-2 in OKC's past seven vs. the West.
NBA Free Picks: Take the points here and go 'over' at 5Dimes.