NBA Picks: Thunder vs. Warriors Preview

Jason Lake

Thursday, November 14, 2013 1:08 PM GMT

The back end of TNT’s Thursday doubleheader features two great Western Conference teams, but while the Golden State Warriors have been beating the NBA odds, the Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled to cash in.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 13 inclusive: 3-7 ATS

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a fashionable choice to win the Western Conference this year. Fashions come and go. The Thunder aren’t awful by any means at 5-2 SU, but they’re having a devil of a time beating the NBA odds at 2-5 ATS. And it won’t get much easier Thursday night in Oakland (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) as Oklahoma City faces the Golden State Warriors, who are crashing the pay window at 5-3 SU and 5-2-1 ATS. 

No Rest for the Wicked 

Oklahoma City will be playing on zero days of rest after losing 111-103 to the Los Angeles Clippers (–4.5 at home) Wednesday night. That quick turnover time could be bad news for the Thunder, but they’re a young team with plenty of hops and an 18-12 ATS record in their last 30 playing the second leg of back-to-back games. Oakland isn’t all that far from L.A., anyway.

That loss to the Clippers also saw the dubious ejection of PF Serge Ibaka after just 17 minutes of play – it was a bad night for the officials in general – and center Kendrick Perkins missed the game following the death of his grandfather. Perkins will miss Thursday’s game as well; from a basketball betting perspective, this allows rookie Steven Adams (18.68 PER) to play more minutes, which is good for OKC. 

Brick House

Adams has been one of the bright spots on a team that’s still missing that certain something – oh, I don’t know, a James Harden type. Even a Kevin Martin would do; without his 3-point scoring, the Thunder have slipped all the way to No. 28 in the NBA at 27.1 percent from long range going into Wednesday’s action. SG Thabo Sefolosha is a premium defender, but his 3-point shot has fallen off from 41.9 percent last year to 15.8 percent after the first six games.

These stats are for the full year and don’t account for PG Russell Westbrook’s late start to the season, but OKC is still only No. 21 overall in offensive efficiency (101.8 points per 100 possessions), although things are still working at the other end of the court (97.7 points allowed/100, No. 6 overall). Again, it’s not like this is a train wreck of a team. It’s just not operating at the level of a title contender.

Can U Dig It?

That’s demonstrably not the case in Golden State, where the Warriors are No. 8 on the offensive charts (103.4 points/100) and No. 2 in defense (92.9 points allowed/100). That’s right: the Warriors are second in the NBA in defense, behind only the Indiana Pacers. Credit the arrival of SF Andre Iguodala, who made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2011, and is also canning 46.9 percent of his trey attempts this year.

Further credit to center Andrew Bogut (11.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes) for staying healthy enough to play 24 minutes a game. And PF David Lee (21.4 PER), who has played mostly under the radar despite making the All-Star team last year. It’s easy to get overshadowed in Golden State when PG Stephen Curry (26.6 PER) is blossoming into an MVP candidate. Curry is hitting career highs in true shooting percentage (65.8 percent) and effective field goal percentage (62.2 percent) while equalling last year’s 45.3-percent rate from long range.

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How did Curry slip to seventh in the 2009 NBA Draft again? Oh, right: He played for Davidson. Playing for Golden State is a lot like playing in the Southern Conference – not much attention from the national media, which is great for the Warriors’ basketball betting value, if not Curry’s MVP candidacy. Good thing we’re betting on the former this week.

NBA Pick: Take the Warriors –4.5 at William Hill