Thunder-Nets NBA Picks: Bet Brooklyn -6.5

David Lawrence

Monday, November 3, 2014 6:11 PM GMT

The Oklahoma City Thunder have quickly become a major story in the NBA, but not for any of the reasons they hoped. The Thunder are already in crisis due to a series of very unlucky events. They’re a 6.5-point underdog on the betting lines on Monday in Brooklyn.

The Oklahoma City Thunder Can Win Because…
The Thunder have shown that they can rally in tough times and play solid basketball, especially on defense. The Thunder, as is well known around the league by now, have lost not just a lot of players, but they’ve lost the players they can’t afford to lose. Kevin Durant went down, then Russell Westbrook. Reggie Jackson hasn’t been in good shape. Anthony Morrow has been hurting. This team has immediately been thrust into a dire position, one in which it’s going to be hard to expect regular production from everyone in the lineup. However, this team was able to respond on Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets, finding its way out of trouble and getting its first win of the season.

The Thunder got 23 points from their best healthy player, Serge Ibaka, against the Nuggets. That’s not too surprising. Ibaka’s value to the Thunder was made clear in the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. He missed the first two games of the series but made Oklahoma City a lot better when he returned in Game 3. Ibaka carried Oklahoma City past Denver on Saturday, but he needed help. Perry Jones scored 23 points and Kendrick Perkins scored 17 while Steven Adams added 13. With balanced contributions such as these, the Thunder can go farther than a lot of people think. This team can compete in the paint, and with Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee being the Nets’ big men, Ibaka and Perkins have to think they can hold their own. Oklahoma City might be able to win a slowdown game as long as it can contain Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson.

 

The Brooklyn Nets Can Win Because…
They're the better team in the backcourt. This seems impossible to dispute right now. Oklahoma City has no Durant, no Westbrook, no Reggie Jackson, none of its three main backcourt scorers. All are very capable shooters, but what was true in Westbrook’s and Jackson’s cases is that they were able to drive to the basket and get defenses way off balance because they were playing for the dribble. When defenses took away the dribble-drive from Westbrook and Jackson, the two guards would pull up for a medium-range jumper and hit it. That’s a big part of Oklahoma City’s offense. The Thunder put defenses in a position where they’d have to try to take away something. Whatever the defense took away, the Thunder’s guards or wings would adjust to. Oklahoma City was able to use a plan B if defenses took away plan A. Now, with all of the Thunder’s injuries, the Nets should be able to dominate on the perimeter, with Joe Johnson – having scored 34 in a win over Detroit on Saturday – being in command from start to finish. Deron Williams should also have a big game.

 

Outlook
The Nets have enough veteran experience and enough skill at all five positions on the court to outwork the shorthanded Thunder, who are not always going to be able to cope with their injuries the way they did against Denver. Jackson is expected back in the lineup tonight but that won’t be enough. Take the Nets with your NBA picks.

Pick: Brooklyn -6.5 at 5Dimes

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