Warriors Buried in Chalk vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Good Bet?

Steph Curry & Kevin Durant

Jason Lake

Saturday, February 24, 2018 5:26 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 5:26 PM UTC

These aren’t the same Golden State Warriors who won two of the last three NBA titles. They’re a dubious basketball pick for Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Golden State Warriors

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Free NBA Pick: UNDER 233
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

It was bound to happen: The Golden State Warriors are over the hill. Sure, the defending champions still lead the NBA in victories at press time, but the Warriors aren’t winning with the same panache they did last year. Bottom line: Golden State is in the red this year at 45-14 SU and 26-32-1 ATS. The good times are over.

Fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder (34-26 SU, 25-35 ATS) are still waiting for the good times. Their one-year gamble – presumably – on the “Big Three” of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony has yielded mixed results at best. However, the Thunder might be the right pick for Saturday’s prime-time showcase in Oakland, tipping off at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC. Golden State has opened as a 9.5-point chalk on the NBA odds board. Ridonkulous.

Third Bananas

How ridonkulous? FiveThirtyEight projects the Warriors as a 6.5-point favorite using their stat nerd powers. That’s a 74-percent chance of victory. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is a bit more optimistic, projecting Golden State at 76.7 percent, but that still translates to less than –8 using the NBA numbers at Wizard of Odds.

Again, this isn’t the same Warriors team as in days of olde. Their point differential of plus-8.1 is down 3.5 points per game from last year – both the Houston Rockets (plus-8.7) and Toronto Raptors (plus-8.5) have overtaken Golden State in that department. The Dubs move back on top once you factor in strength of schedule, checking in at plus-8.22 on the Simple Rating System at Basketball Reference; Houston (plus-8.18 SRS) and Toronto (plus-7.97) still have some catching up to do. But the defending champs were killing it last year at plus-11.35 SRS.

Here’s to You, Mr. Roberson

Before we scramble to put Oklahoma City (plus-3.18 SRS) in our NBA picks, here’s the thing about these numbers: They don’t properly account for injuries. The Thunder lost their defensive lynchpin when SG Andre Roberson (plus-2.9 DBPM) blew out his knee in late January. They’re 5-6 SU and 4-7 ATS since that fateful day. And while that includes a 125-105 de-pantsing of the Dubs (–10) at The Oracle on February 6, the home side should be extra-motivated to do something about it on Saturday.

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Five of OKC's six most-used lineups that don't involve Andre Roberson have negative net ratings. Exactly how much that means is up for discussion. But 60 games into the year, it certainly needs to be discussed.

— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 23, 2018
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Let’s take our chances instead with a very small bet on the UNDER, hoping to take advantage of the betting market and that ginormous 233-point total, up from 231 when Golden State last faced the Thunder. Yes, both teams have fresh legs after the All-Star break. And yes, the OVER is on a 4-0 run for Oklahoma City, and 4-1 for the Dubs. But these guys scored 72 points between them in the first quarter of their previous matchup, and they still went UNDER. We’ll buy that for a Hong Kong dollar.

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