Pelicans vs. Thunder NBA Picks: Take the Points +8

Darin Zank

Sunday, December 21, 2014 4:34 PM GMT

Oklahoma City is 7-2 straight up & 5-4 against the spread in NBA Odds this season with Kevin Durant in the lineup, 6-12 SU but 9-8 ATS without him. How should we bet when they host New Orleans Sunday night?

Pelicans-Thunder Betting Odds
Most betting shops we consulted opened this game with Oklahoma City favored by seven points or so in NBA odds, the total pegged at about 204. In the early betting the line was holding steady, while the total dropped a point, to 203.

Those who think New Orleans might pull the upset in this spot could get a price of +311 on the moneyline at Pinnacle Sports.

 

Pelicans-Thunder: The Match-Up
Oklahoma City, finally playing with both Durant and Russell Westbrook, recently won seven games in a row, going 5-2 ATS. But the Thunder had their winning streak snapped by a 114-109 loss to Golden State Thursday night. Durant scored 30 points in the first half, but sat out the second half after turning an ankle.

OKC then beat the Lakers in LA Friday 104-103 without Durant. But the Thunder only shot 43 percent from the floor, allowed LA to shoot 48 percent and missed on the cover as six-point favorites.

New Orleans, meanwhile, has won five of its last eight games, but Saturday night lost at home to Portland 114-88. The Pelicans fell behind by 21 points early in the second quarter and never recovered, later trailing by 32 heading into the fourth.

New Orleans shot just 35 percent from the field, allowed the Blazers to shoot 53 percent and totally whiffed on the spread as a five-point favorite. However, the Pelicans' two previous defeats came by five points at Dallas and in overtime against the Warriors. So they've been playing some decent ball as of late, evidenced by six covers in their last eight games.

At 13-13 New Orleans is tied with Phoenix for the eight/nine spots in the Western Conference, while Oklahoma City, at 13-14, lurks just a half-game back.

 

Pelicans-Thunder, Key Numbers
New Orleans ranks 13th in the league in FG shooting at 46 percent, and 25th in FG defense, allowing opponents to shoot almost 47 percent. The Pelicans also rank 14th in rebounding at +1 per game, and own a 22/12 assist-to-turnover ratio, which isn't bad.

Most of OKC's stats so far this season don't really matter, because it played so many games without Durant and Russell. A couple of numbers catch our attention, though; the Thunder rank second in the league in FG defense, holding foes to 42 percent shooting, and second in rebounding at +3 per game.

 

Pelicans-Thunder Recent History
New Orleans took the first meeting between these teams this season 112-104 back on Dec. 2, which just so happened to be the first time this season OKC had both Durant and Westbrook in the lineup. The Pelicans led that game 69-52 at the half, and while the Thunder got within five points early the fourth quarter, that was as close as they got.

New Orleans won that game straight up as a four-point home dog, and the game played OVER its total of 197, even though the teams combined to shoot just 44 percent from the floor.

Last season OKC took two of three games from the Pelicans, covering as a six-point favorite on the road and at -15 at home.

 

Pelicans-Thunder Betting Trends
New Orleans is 16-10 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Pelicans games have averaged 205 points.

Oklahoma City has trended toward the UNDERS by a 19-8 margin, as Thunder games have averaged 192 points. But since Durant came back OKC games have averaged 204 points.

New Orleans is 5-9 SU, 7-7 ATS on the road this season.

OKC is 7-5 SU, 10-2 ATS at home.

 

Injury Update
Durant missed Friday's game with a sprained ankle, and his status for this game is uncertain. On the other side of the scorers' table Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (17 PPG) is dealing with a sore knee, although he is expected to play. Bettors might be wise to wait for more updated injury information before betting this game.

 

Pelicans-Thunder Free Pick
It's difficult to make a NBA pick without knowing for sure whether Durant will play, but in believing New Orleans might put on a little better performance than it did Saturday night we'll take the points with the Pelicans.

Free NBA Pick: New Orleans +8 at 5Dimes