Thunder vs. Knicks NBA Picks Depend on Kevin Durant's Status

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 4:07 PM GMT

New York is an 8.5-point underdog on NBA odds against Oklahoma City, with a total of 199.5 points tonight at Madison Square Garden, after the Knicks' game there Monday was snowed out. 

How's Durant Feeling?
The big question here is whether Thunder superstar Kevin Durant plays after he missed Monday's 92-84 home win over Minnesota with a sprained toe. Durant was hurt late in Sunday's loss to Cleveland as he scooped in the final two of his team-high 32 points. Durant went through pre-game warm-ups Monday but decided to sit. It was Durant's 24th game missed this season -- thus he has no chance of repeating as NBA MVP or as scoring champion -- after missing only 16 combined in his first seven seasons. The Thunder are 9-15 this season without Durant. They are 5-4 with Russell Westbrook in the lineup and Durant out, and 14-7 with both their stars.

If Durant can't go, Perry Jones would start. He had six points and three rebounds in 24 minutes against the terrible Timberwolves. Westbrook led the way with 18 points but was just 7-for-22 from the field. Westbrook has averaged 29.9 points in the nine full games without Durant. Thunder center Steven Adams returned after missing Sunday's game with migraines and had eight points and four rebounds.

Oklahoma City (23-22) needs to get Durant healthy or the team risks missing the playoffs. It is 10th in the West and 2.5 games behind No. 8  Phoenix. It will be hard to catch any of the other top seven teams. For example, No. 7 San Antonio is 5.5 games ahead of Oklahoma City. Might the Thunder sit Durant here knowing they can beat the sorry Knicks without him? It's possible, although you know Durant likely wants to play in the Garden in his only trip of the season.

The Thunder are 20-23-2 against the NBA betting spread and 17-28 'over/under.'

 

Red-Hot Knicks?!
The Knicks (8-37) actually are playing their best basketball of the season, winning three of their past four games. They were set to host Sacramento on Monday before that game was postponed. New York's season-high three-game winning streak ended with Saturday's ugly 76-71 loss in Charlotte. That was the second of a back-to-back so the Knicks rested Carmelo Anthony, something that probably continues all season until he officially shuts it down for good. New York does play again Thursday night at Indiana, but the team won't sit Anthony at home if it can on the road. Ditto Amare Stoudemire. Those New York fans do pay the highest ticket price in the NBA, after all, so they deserve the stars on the court.

New York started three guys on 10-day contracts against Charlotte but one of them will have a job the rest of the way as the team signed Langston Galloway for the rest of the season. He has been a nice surprise, averaging 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists in eight games.

All the Knicks care about the rest of the way is finishing with the worst record possible to get the most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery. It's likely going to come down to them, the Timberwolves and 76ers.

New York is 17-21-1 against the spread and 20-24-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.

 

Last Meeting
On Nov. 28 in Oklahoma City the Thunder were 8-point favorites on NBA odds (total of 186) and won easily 105-78. That was Westbrook's first game back after his broken hand suffered in the second game of the season. He had 32 points (12 of 17 shooting), eight assists and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes. Westbrook was the first player in the shot-clock era with 32 points and eight assists in 24 or fewer minutes. Durant was still out with his broken foot then. Stoudemire had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who played without an injured Anthony. The Thunder also blew out the Knicks twice last season, including 123-94 at Madison Square Garden.

NBA Free Picks: Take the Thunder -9 at Pinnacle if Durant plays, but the Knicks and the points if he doesn't. 'Over' if Durant plays, 'under' if he doesn't. OKC has covered six of its past nine vs. the East. New York has covered only one of its past 10 vs. the West. The 'under' is 4-1 in the Thunder's and Knicks' past five overall.