Melo & Thunder Host Knicks in Season Opener

Jay Pryce

Thursday, October 19, 2017 12:43 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 12:43 PM UTC

The new-look Oklahoma City Thunder open their 10th season as 12-point favorites against the New Yorks Knicks Thursday night (8 p.m. ET). Get your pick, predictions, and preview for the game here. 

New York Knicks vs Oklahoma City Thunder (-12)

The retooled Thunder sees reigning MVP Russell Westbrook newly accompanied by 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony and former Pacers star Paul George for the 2017-18 NBA season. Expectations are high among fans and Chesapeake Energy Arena will be raucous tonight. Sportsbooks are dangling an over/under wins total of 50.5, while the team is fifth choice at +2500 odds to win The Finals at 5Dimes.

Anthony, who played seven season for the Knicks, will be the center of attention in the opener. The sweet-shooting forward averaged 24.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in over 400 in the Big Apple. Anthony and the franchise feuded relentlessly near the end, and the star will look to close a chapter on that section of his career tonight with a win.

George will end up the real difference-maker among the pair. The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 23.7 points per game last season in Indiana on 46.1 percent shooting. George also brings a much-needed defensive presence to the frontcourt. With Westbrook, the projected starters are filled out by Andre Roberson at shooting guard and Steven Adams at center.

The Knicks are in rebuilding mode and projected to miss the playoffs with an over/under 30.5 wins total. The team is reassembling around Kristaps Porzingis. The 7-foot-3 power forward will be the focal point on offense for the first time in his young career. The 22-year-old averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 boards, and 2.0 blocks per game last year. How Porzingis handles the added responsibility will go a long way in determining the Knicks success, or lack there of, this season. The rest of the starting lineup features journeyman Ramon Sessions and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the backcourt with former OKC center Enes Kanter and Courtney Lee filling up the paint.

Handicapping this game is a challenge given the many changes for each franchise. The combined plus-minus per 36 minutes of New York’s starting lineup from last season is -4.7, while the Thunder’s first five adds up to 7.2. The difference is nearly identical to the current line.

Here is an angle worth considering. Since 1995, 33 road underdogs have tipped off as double-digit pups in the season-opener. They are 4-29 SU and 16-16-1 ATS. Accounting for Oklahoma City’s point differential from last season may uncover an edge. The Thunder averaged a 0.2 scoring margin in a  tough Western Conference in 2016. When the heavy-chalked home team in the above situation owned a margin of victory less than a point the prior season, they are 5-1 ATS, covering the number (-11.5) by 7.3 points per game.  Expectations might not be high enough for the Thunder in this one.

Historically, the Thunder are 12-5 SU and 8-9 ATS against the Knicks since moving to OKC. Twice they tipped off as double-digit chalk and covered in each. Expect another number-beater here. Lay the points with OKC as Anthony tastes sweet victory over his former employer.F

Free NBA Pick: Thunder -12Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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