Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 30 inclusive:
Who am I to doubt El Durante? The emergent MVP of the 2013-14 NBA season, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant, was at it again Friday night, dropping 26 points and seven assists on the Brooklyn Nets (+5 at home) in a 120-95 laugher. Believe it or not, this was a down night of sorts for Durant, who saw his streak of 30-point games end at 12. But you can hardly blame the guy. He shot 10-of-12 and only got to play 30 minutes.
Good thing, because the Thunder (38-10 SU, 29-19 ATS) have to turn right around and play the Washington Wizards (22-23 SU, 24-21 ATS), who have been idle since Wednesday. The early NBA lines have Oklahoma City favored by 3.5 points, down from –4 at the open, with a total of 201.
In case I haven’t linked to it enough already, I faded the Thunder in Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat. It was a speculative pick; Oklahoma City had dropped the cash in its last game against the Atlanta Hawks (+10 away) after rattling off a 7-0 SU and ATS streak, and I thought it might be a good time to sell high. Wrong. The Thunder came back from an early 22-4 deficit to throttle Miami (–4 at home) 112-95.
And now this. The Thunder absolutely smoked Brooklyn Friday night, taking a 63-35 lead into the dressing room and putting it in cruise control after that. It wasn’t just Durant (31.1 PER), either. Serge Ibaka (19.1 PER) had 25 points and nine rebounds on an almost perfect night of shooting – he was 12-of-12 from the floor and 1-of-2 from the free-throw line. Four other Thunder (Thunders? Thundermen?) scored in double digits. All this against a Nets team that was 10-2 SU and 9-3 ATS in its previous dozen games.
Don’t Wiz on the Electric Fence
Thunder, Schmunder. What about the Wizards? They’ve played some reasonably good basketball over the past couple of weeks, going 6-4 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games to keep pace in what’s becoming a not entirely awful Eastern Conference playoff race. The Wiz are in sixth place as we go to press. They’re also sixth in point differential at minus-0.7.
Washington was projected to be a bubble playoff team in the East, with too many talented young players to tank and not nearly enough jam to challenge the likes of the Heat and the Indiana Pacers. And so here were are at the edge of .500. John Wall (19.8 PER) has been named to the All-Star team as a reserve, his first of probably many invitations to come. Bradley Beal (14.4 PER) is shooting 42.2 percent from downtown. The veteran frontline of Nene (16.4 PER), Marcin Gortat (15.9 PER) and Trevor Azira (15.9 PER) is holding up well.
Not so sure about that bench, though. There are some good players here; PF Trevor Booker (15.8 PER) is a hard worker, if undersized at the 4-spot, and Kevin Seraphin (12.0 PER) has shown flashes at center. But Martell Webster (12.8 PER) has always been overvalued, and at this rate, Jan Vesely (11.6 PER) is going to be remembered more for his draft-day kiss than anything else.
Playing at home on two days of rest will give Washington a boost in this situation, but I can’t possibly recommend fading Oklahoma City right now. Just load up another dish of KD, and heat, serve, and repeat until the NBA betting market decides it’s full.
NBA Pick: Take the Thunder –3 at Sports Interaction