The Oklahoma City Thunder begin their first multiple-game road trip of the season on Monday night when they make their only visit of the year to Atlanta. Check our NBA pick here.
Schedule Has Been Kind To Thunder
Oklahoma City (11-6) has definitely had a weird schedule thus far without back-to-back road games. The Thunder go to Miami after this game but then return home again. They don't have a road trip of at least three games until early January. That's obviously going to catch up to the team at some point in terms of more road games in 2016.
The Thunder enter on a season-high four-game winning streak -- they have scored in triple digits in each game and are winning by an average of 13.0 points per game. They are off a 103-87 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Oklahoma City outrebounded Detroit 55-32 and held the Pistons to just 11-for-46 shooting (23.9 percent) in the second half. By comparison, OKC shot 51.3 percent after intermission and allowed just four points off turnovers. Kevin Durant had perhaps his best game of the season with 34 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Fellow star Russell Westbrook had maybe his worst game of the year, with 14 points and a whopping 11 turnovers. He was only 5-for-14 from the field and fouled out for just the eighth time in his career.
Three of Oklahoma City's four wins during the streak have come against the Eastern Conference. Before this run, the Thunder were only 2-4 against the East, which is clearly much better this season than last. While OKC might have one of the best starting fives in the NBA, it is also 10-1 this season when the Thunder reserves outscores the opposing team’s reserves.
OKC is 7-10 against the spread on NBA odds and 7-10 'over/under.'
Hawks Off Terrible Effort
Atlanta (11-8) returns home off a three-game road trip that concluded with a 108-88 loss in San Antonio on Saturday. The Spurs led by as many as 30 points in winning their 10th straight overall against the Hawks and 18th straight in San Antonio. Mike Budenholzer, who spent 19 seasons with the Spurs before joining the Hawks, is now 0-5 in the regular season against his mentor Gregg Popovich. Atlanta had season lows for points in any quarter (12 in the second), first-half points (37) and tied a season low for total points. Only one Hawks starter had double-figure points and that was Al Horford with 10. The starting five combined for just 38 points. Atlanta's starters finished a combined minus-126.
The Hawks were only 6-for-26 from long range and had only 13 free-throw attempts. They did have 28 assists and rank second in the NBA in assists at 25.6 per game, dishing out at least 25 12 times, including four 30-assist nights. The Hawks have had at least 22 assists in all but one game this season.
Not that it would have changed the result, but Atlanta played a fourth straight game without center Tiago Splitter, who was acquired from San Antonio this offseason. He's dealing with a hip injury and not likely to play Monday, either. Meanwhile, this will be Horford's first game against his former coach at the University of Florida in the Thunder's Billy Donovan.
If the Hawks lead this game in the fourth quarter, that bodes well for them. Dating back to last season, the Hawks have won 34 straight games at home when leading entering the fourth. Atlanta is 8-10-1 ATS on NBA picks and 10-9 O/U.
The teams split last season, each winning at home. On Jan. 23 in Atlanta, the Hawks won 103-93. That was when Atlanta was scorching hot last season, winning its 15th straight game overall and 29th in the past 31. Paul Millsap had 22 points and Jeff Teague 17. Was a rare game last year where Durant and Westbrook played together; Westbrook had 22 points and Durant 21. On March 20, the Thunder won 123-115. Durant was out for the season at that point; Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter were also out injured. Westbrook had 36 points (17 in fourth quarter), 14 assists and 10 rebounds. Dion Waiters added 26 points. Pero Antic scored a career-high 22 points and Dennis Schroder added 21 for the Hawks, who led by five entering the fourth quarter.
Take the Thunder and go 'over.' Atlanta is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 games. The 'over' is 14-6 in OKC's past 20 on the road. The 'over' is 7-3 in Atlanta's past 10 following a loss.
NBA Picks: Thunder -2 & Over 211.5 at Pinnacle