Oklahoma City Thunder (32-9) at Los Angeles Clippers (32-10)
This is obviously the best matchup of the night, as the two top teams in the NBA matched up against each other. Surprisingly enough, both teams are coming off of losses. The Clippers are playing the 2nd half of a back to back as they were defeated by the Golden State Warriors on MLK Jr. Day, 106-99 while the Thunder are coming off of a tough defeat on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets in OT, 121-118.
These teams have practically identical records, but even though the Clippers are at home, the NBA odds makers have given the Thunder the -1 advantage.
The Thunder nearly pulled off the impossible as they battled back from 11 down with 3 minutes to go in regulation time, but Denver outplayed OKC in the overtime session despite 37 points from Kevin Durant and 36 points from Russell Westbrook.
The Clippers played on Monday and gave up the lead, being outscored 33-19 in the final quarter by the combination of Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack. Jack was basically involved in almost every 4th quarter scoring play, coming off of the bench, and the Warriors dominated at crunch time.
Am I the only one who thinks that Chris Paul might be a bit overrated? There’s no doubt that he’s turned the Clippers into a winning team, but individually, he’s not a dominant player offensively. CP3 will have days like yesterday where Blake Griffin needs to provide most of the offense while Paul looks to find his offensive game. Paul was just 1 for 7 against the Warriors for just 4 points and 9 assists. Blake Griffin had finally started to find his place on this team and now the Clips have to worry about CP3.
Best Combo in the NBA
There’s no doubt that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are the best 1-2 punch in the game today. People thought that Durant was a decisive MVP candidate, but you have to put Westbrook into the conversation as well. He has great size and speed that Chris Paul can’t compare with. Westbrook is also a big-time offensive threat that provides consistency. Westbrook and his 23 points, 8.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 2 steals per game are the reason why the Thunder are the best team in the Western Conference.
The better team wins here. Take OKC and lay the single point.
NBA Picks: Oklahoma City -1
Philadelphia 76’ers (17-24) at Milwaukee Bucks (21-18)
I’m drawn to this game because I had correctly picked Philly to cover against San Antonio, and they were able to battle back from double digits. Eventually, the better team took the win, but the Sixers managed to cover the spread.
The Brandon Jennings Show?
Jrue Holiday had a tough time getting on track as he finished with 15 points, 8 rebound, 4 steals, and 6 turnovers. Except for the turnovers, the numbers look good, but Holiday was far from good. Despite their best player having an off game, Philadelphia showed a lot of toughness in that game and even though this is a back to back situation, expect the Sixers to show the same toughness here as the 6.5 points dogs against the Bucks.
Milwaukee is coming off of a great road victory in which they defeated a good Portland Trail Blazers team, 110-104. Brandon Jennings had a huge 30 point performance but this game belonged to forward, Ersan Ilyasova, who had 27 points and 14 rebounds on 10 of 14 shooting from the field. Ilyasova has had a tough season this year, but is a very capable player. He’s was producing consistent double-doubles last season, and maybe this strong performance will help to jump start his season.
The Bucks depend upon Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings with Larry Sanders as their defensive threat. This is a well rounded team that’s starting to become a winner.
Everything in this game points to a Bucks blowout but I think that Philadelphia is a very resilient team. Look for the Sixers to keep this game close.
NBA Pick: Philadelphia +6.5