NBA Picks: Rockets & Thunder To Sneak 'Under' The Huge Total

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 29, 2016 3:58 PM GMT

While there is no doubt this is a matchup of two potent offenses when the Rockets take on the Thunder, is that fact overly reflected in a very inflated total on NBA TV on Friday?

 

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NBA Pick: Under 223
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek

 

While there is no disputing the offensive prowess of the two combatants, that could be leading to a very inflated total Friday night possibly giving value to the ‘under’ when the Houston Rockets (25-23, 20-28 ATS) pay a visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-13, 19-29 ATS) at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on NBA TV.

The posted total at Heritage Sports is 222 for this contest with the current NBA odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.

 

Bounce-Back Season for Thunder
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were hardly ever on the court at the same time last season with Westbrook getting a belated start to the year recovering from a torn ACL and Durant then breaking his foot, and consequently the Thunder failed to make the playoffs. Both are back and healthy right now though and Oklahoma City has returned to its elite status as currently the third seed in the West at 35-13 following a 126-123 win at Minnesota on Wednesday.

The Rockets meanwhile had a dreadful start to this season, leading to the firing of former coach Kevin McHale in favor of interim coach J. B. Bickerstaff. Houston has recovered a bit going 21-16 as NBA picks under Bickerstaff to get to two games over .500, and they have now gained a playoff position as the seventh seed in the Western Conference despite being in fourth place and 15 games behind the first-place San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division.

 

Underrated Oklahoma City Defense
The Thunder have two of the top seven scorers in the NBA entering the day with Durant fourth in the league with his 27.0 points per game and Westbrook seventh with 24.1, so it should come as not surprise that Oklahoma City as a team is second in the league in scoring at 109.3 points per game, trailing only the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. And yet, it is the ‘under’ that has gone 27-21 in all Thunder games this year including 17-9 here at home.

That points to Oklahoma City often playing to inflated totals due to its offensive prowess, while its underrated defense often gets overlooked. Sure the Thunder are only 15th in the league in points against at 101.3 per game, but that is more a function of playing at a fast tempo. The truth of the matter is the Oklahoma City defense is fifth in the league in field goal percentage allowed at just 43.5 percent, and that is while facing many offensive-minded West teams.

And that defense has been more apparent here at home, where the Thunder are allowing just 98.0 points per contest. Looking at overall averages, Oklahoma City games are averaging 210.6 points overall, which while high is still about 11 points less than this posted total, and Thunder home games have averaged just a combined 205.9 points.

 

Rockets Shot 38.4 Percent vs. Spurs
The Rockets were feeling good about themselves while riding a three-game winning streak entering their game vs. the top seeded Spurs in San Antonio Wednesday, but Houston quickly learned it still has a lot of work to do after getting annihilated 130-99 while shooting 28-for-73, 38.4 percent from the floor. Considering how “up” the Rockets were entering that game, that blowout could have a bit of a lingering effect here, which is not ideal vs. another elite team.

Granted the Rockets are fourth in the league in scoring with 104.7 points per game while simultaneously having a disgusting defense ranked 27th allowing 106.1 points per contest, but again, while that combined average of 210.8 points is high by usual standards, it remains about 11 points less than this total.

This is just the second meeting between these teams this season and they combined for 215 points when the Rockets won the first encounter 110-105 in Houston. That shootout still stayed ‘under’ that posted total of 217½ however, and now this posted total is even higher.

 

Usually Playing to Inflated Totals
Finally, this would not be the first time that these teams have played to an inflated total against each other as it is the ‘under’ that is actually 10-4 in the last 14 head-to-head meetings overall and 6-1 n the last 7 meetings in Oklahoma City! Also, the ‘under’ is 14-6 in the Thunder’s last 20 games after scoring more than 125 points in their previous game, as well as 9-3 in the Rockets’ last 12 games vs. teams with winning records.

We look for more of the same with another seemingly inflated total here in this nationally televised contest, so go ‘under’ again when Houston visits Oklahoma City on NBA TV Friday night.