Free NBA Picks: Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers

Westbrook has emerged as one of the top point guards in the league, but will have a challenge with Darren Collison tonight

Oklahoma City Thunder AT Indiana Pacers
Tuesday, 11/26/10 8:05 EST
Current Betting line:  Oklahoma City -1.5
Current Total: 206

The Thunder come into this game 10-5, having lost their last game to Dallas by 8 points.  The Pacers meanwhile have been a pleasant surprise to Pacer fans, going 7-6 and are currently riding a two game winning streak.  They are a .500 team at home so far, going 4-4 thus far.  The Thunder sport a 4-2 road record going into tonight’s game.

Somehow, despite having a 10-5 record, Oklahoma City has a negative point differential, averaging being outscored 102.8 to 102.5.  Indiana has a positive point differential of 95.5 to 98.8.

The total has gone OVER in 12 of Oklahoma City’s past 15 games.  Both teams combine to average 210.6 compared to the total line of 206, so there is a good chance that the total goes over again tonight.  The total has gone OVER in Oklahoma City’s last five games against the Pacers, too.  However, counteracting this statistic is the fact that the total has gone UNDER in all five of Indiana’s last five games.  Again, however, counteracting this is the fact that the total has gone OVER in the last 5 games in Indiana vs the Thunder.

Some of the key matchups to watch tonight:

Darren Collison (IND) vs. Russell Westbrook (OKC)

Collison has been a relative disappointment this year, in terms of how high the bar was set after his performance in New Orleans last year with Chris Paul out, a period in which Collison averaged 19 ppg and 9 apg.  Thus far in the 2010-2011 season, he is only averaging 14.3 ppg and 4.3 apg.  Perhaps most perplexing of all is the fact he has been losing minutes to veteran T.J. Ford, who figures NOT to be a part of Indiana’s future plans.  Westbrook, conversely, is having a career year, averaging 6 more ppg than last year, and clocking in at 22.5 ppg to go along with 8.3 apg, making him clearly one of the top point guards in the game.  However, if anyone has the speed to keep up with Westbrook, it is Collison.  This matchup will go a long ways towards determining the outcome of this game.

Danny Granger (IND) vs. Kevin Durant (OKC)

Granger is one of the more underrated players in the game, despite having made his first all star team last year.  He is a great shooter (43.4% from three on 6.4 attempts from behind the arc per game) and a high volume scorer.  The same can be said about Durant, of course, who will give Granger fits, but Granger is a good defender and might be able to keep Durant from having a big night.  He will make Durant work on the defensive end, meaning he will have less energy to do his thing on offense.  Durant’s field goal percentage is down so far this year, and he is shooting very poorly from three (29%).  Look for Durant to try to get to the hole more against Granger since he has a speed advantage and Granger has the length to challenge his jumper.

These two matchups will determine the outcome of the game.  While Hibbert of the Pacers promises to have a big night against Nenad Krstic, it is Westbrook and Durant that will likely spell either victory or defeat for the Thunder.

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