Playoff Berth in Thunder's Reach but Heat Standing in Way

thunder

Troy Haliburton

Monday, April 9, 2018 4:56 PM GMT

Monday, Apr. 9, 2018 4:56 PM GMT

Oklahoma City hopes to clinch a playoff spot, while Miami wants to build momentum heading toward the postseason. Both teams appear motivated to win. Perhaps only one really is.

NBA Betting: Thunder (33-46-1 ATS) vs. Miami (39-35-6 ATS)Free NBA Pick: Thunder -3Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Oklahoma City Thunder have had about as up-and-down of a season as possible, but they can achieve one of their goals tonight by clinching a playoff berth with a win over the Miami Heat. The Thunder inched closer to achieving this goal by coming back and defeating the Houston Rockets in a nationally televised game on Saturday night. In that game, the Thunder had about as balanced an attack as they have had all season with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony each scoring more than 22 points.

George is they key player in this trio because he is the most dynamic scorer of the three, but he has been riddled by a recent shooting slump that left him searching for answers. On Saturday, George went 3-for-7 from 3-point range but still shot only 5-for-17 from the field, bringing his field-goal percentage over the last 10 games to 36 percent. If the Thunder want to have success in the playoffs, they must find a way to get George back on track.

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Paul George said he has something “mechanical” going on with his shot. “I don’t feel like myself shooting the ball right now.” pic.twitter.com/f9hq83YGnA

— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 4, 2018
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The Miami Heat have already clinched their playoff spot, but are still competing for a higher seed in the Eastern Conference. Currently the Heat are in sixth place, and in reality they wouldn’t mind dropping to seventh to face an injury-hampered Boston Celtics team in the playoffs. More important than who they face in the first round will be how much momentum the Heat can carry into the postseason. Miami is coming off of a very perplexing loss to the New York Knicks on Friday and have gone 4-4 in their last eight games. That is not the type of strong finish that playoff teams want entering the postseason.

Oklahoma City, a -3 road favorite on the NBA odds board, should be able to take care of the Heat in Miami, seeing as how the Heat are one of the worst teams in the NBA when it comes to covering the spread at home. Miami has an ATS home record of 15-20-4.

Thunder big man Steven Adams will have his hands full with Hassan Whiteside, but that should not be too much of a problem as Whiteside has expressed frustration with not playing as many minutes as he would like. Adams controls the paint and is a menace on the offensive glass and has the propensity to get opposing centers in foul trouble because of his physical play. On the perimeter it will be interesting to see the plethora of bodies the Heat use to try and slow Westbrook, who already torched Miami this year with a triple-double, including a 17-point fourth quarter.

With your NBA picks, look for OKC to thrive in Miami behind Westbrook and Adams and punch their ticket to the postseason.

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