Brooklyn at Oklahoma City
Time: 6 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: OKC -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Brooklyn Nets have won six of its last 10 games and currently trail No. 5 Boston by 5.5 games. The Nets are 15-17 on the road this season, but against the West, Brooklyn has gone just 11-13. The Nets have won its last four games.
Brooklyn has recently received superb play from Russell, who is looking more like the superstar he was billed to be when the L.A. Lakers drafted him out of Ohio State. Over his last 10 games, Russell has averaged 22.9 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game and the Nets have gone 7-3 over that span.
In the month of January, Russell averaged 23 points and seven assists per game, markedly better than his 19 and six on the season. The 6’5” guard is thriving with Spencer Dinwiddie unavailable, as the pair before had (awkwardly) shared the playmaking responsibilities. With Dinwiddie entering free agency this summer, the Nets will have some choices to make with regards to its future 1-man for the rebuild, but this rebuild is bright.
The Nets are playoff contenders and now will be getting its draft picks back after surrendering several to the Boston Celtics as a result of the poorly planned trade that brought the Nets Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. While that trade did not work out, the Nets have been scrappy in assembling talents and are a force to be reckoned with already: With a top draft pick joining the fold, this team could reasonably be in the top-4 in the East as soon as next season.
Oklahoma City has been rolling, and its plan of attack is slightly different, so perhaps that is why. Russell Westbrook, while still a dominant force in all aspects of the game, has shifted the primary scoring responsibilities to swingman Paul George. George has thrived.
Over his last five games, he is averaging 38.4 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and 48 percent from three. He has simply been en fuego–and Westbrook has facilitated plenty of it, in serving a more passive role as the Thunder’s best player and playmaker.
Westbrook is averaging 1.5 points per game less than his career average, but he is averaging 2.8 assists more per game than his career average of 8.3 per contest. He has had a triple-double in seven straight games, and the Thunder have won all but one of those games. It seems that OKC has stumbled across its secret to success this season, but it unclear whether this methodology will be anywhere enough to defeat the vaunted Golden State Warriors when the playoffs roll around.
The only thing that is certain, is that the chances are better than ever for this OKC team. Westbrook and George are both tops at their position, and the OKC defense has been suffocating. This could finally be the year that Westbrook experiences some postseason success to pad his Hall of Fame resume after averaging a triple-double for three consecutive seasons. The emergence of George into a true superstar is what has driven it, but Westbrook is the heart and soul of the Thunder.
ATS TRENDS (c/o COVERS):