Rested Thunder the NBA Pick over Well-Travelled Rockets

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 15, 2015 5:41 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.

 

The recent travelling situations of the two participating teams could make a big difference Thursday night when the well-rested Oklahoma City Thunder (18-19, 7-12 away) pay a visit to the potentially tired Houston Rockets (27-12, 13-6 home) at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The point spread at Bet365 has Oklahoma City as a tiny favorite for this contest with the current line at -1 with odds of -110.


14-3 with Durant and Westbrook in the Lineup
The Thunder may still be one game under .500 overall, but remember that Oklahoma City played without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for much of the season, and that was the reason it got off to a 3-15 start. However, the Thunder are 14-3 in games where both Durant and Westbrook have played this year and both are healthy right now.

The Rockets had forged to first place in the Southwest Division entering play last night, but they were upset losing NBA picks to the Magic 120-113 in Orlando before flying home late for this second game of a back-to-back. Houston now enters play in second place, one-half game behind the Memphis Grizzlies who were victorious in Brooklyn last night to leapfrog the Rockets.

The back-to-back is just the final straw in what has been a rather ridiculous schedule for the Rockets lately, and they could be at a big disadvantage in the fatigue department tonight.


Thunder Off Since Friday
You see, the Thunder should be well rested after having been off for nearly a week! Oklahoma City last played last Friday when it beat Utah 99-94, failing to cover as 6½-point spreads. And the unusual rest could have come at a good time for the Thunder as they had just lost back-to-back road games at Golden State and Sacramento prior to beating Utah and they are currently on an 0-5-1 ATS skid.

Still, the rest should rejuvenate the two superstars Durant and Westbrook, who are the highest scoring duo in the league this season. Yes it is the Rockets that boast the leading scorer in the NBA here in James Harden with his 26.9 points per game, but Westbrook is averaging 26.2 points and would be second in the league if he had played enough games to qualify.

Likewise, the reigning MVP Durant would be fourth in scoring with his 25.0 points after LeBron James and his 25.5! And besides that great scoring duo, the Thunder still have one of the more underrated defenses in the NBA that hardly ever receives enough recognition for a unit that is ranked eighth in points against (98.0 per game), third in field goal percentage allowed (43.0 percent), fifth in three-point defense (33.0 percent) and eighth in defensive efficiency.


Hectic Schedule for Rockets
As mentioned, the back-to-back games for the Rockets here is just the culmination of an arduous journey that began last week, when the Rockets played three road games in four nights ending with a trip to New York to face the Knicks last Thursday.

Then came perhaps the quirkiest part of the recent schedule as the Rockets returned home, but for just one game in Houston vs. Utah on Saturday, before completing what turned out to be a round trip as they retuned to New York to visit the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. The Rockets managed to win the last four of those games despite all the frequent flyer miles, but they then flew south for the visit to Orlando last night.

Apparently fatigue finally kicked in for the Rockets there in the loss where they had no energy on defense, especially while allowing 65 points in the second half including 36 in the fourth quarter to a Magic team not exactly known for explosive offense, and now here they back home with no rest following another flight to take on the best team they have faced in a while despite the Thunder’s record.

At least this game kicks off a three-game home stand for the Rockets where they will have days off following each game.


Head-to-Head Edge for Oklahoma City
Besides the obvious travel edge that the Thunder enjoy here, they have dominated this head-to-head series recently from a betting viewpoint going 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings, including covering while playing without both Durant and Westbrook the first time these teams met this season. The Thunder did lose that game outright though by a brutal score of 69-65, so some revenge is also in order here after being without the Dynamic Duo that game.

With both of its superstars now back, look for Oklahoma City to score an important road win visiting Houston on the NBA on TNT Thursday.

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NBA Pick: Thunder -1 (-110)