Houston at Oklahoma City
Time: 7 PM CT (TNT)
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Oklahoma City Thunder are 6-4 but will be without superstar Russell Westbrook tonight. Its opponent, the Houston Rockets, struggled without its star, too. But Harden is back, and the Rockets have won three-straight.
The point spread for this affair is set EVEN according to oddsmakers at 5dimes, while the total is 214 points. The game will air at 7 PM (CT) on TNT.
The Thunder have won six straight games since losing its first four of the season. In that streak, it has mostly knocked off bottom feeders, with a couple exceptions. The streak has contained wins against Cleveland, New Orleans, Washington, Charlotte, the L.A. Clippers, and Phoenix Suns. In its most recent victory over the Cavaliers, the Thunder got a huge game from new addition Dennis Schroeder, who seems to be fitting into its game plan quite well. Starting in place of the injured Westbrook, the former Atlanta Hawk shot 11 of 19 en route to 28 points and seven rebounds. He posted a +20 for his 34 minutes of court time, and the Thunder outscored Cleveland in all but the third quarter.
Paul George added 18 points on 7 of 16 shooting, and he will be counted on even more heavily to better Houston tonight. George is averaging 22.2 points per game this season, but he is shooting just 39.4 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three-point range. Interestingly, he averages 24.5 points in the Thunder’s four losses while managing just 20.7 in wins. Perhaps milking more out of the swingman is not the best way, but with Westbrook out the entire face of this franchise changes.
The Rockets have won its past three, and Carmelo Anthony finally seems to be finding his niche in Houston, if only on offense. The secret according to Royce Young of ESPN has been unlocking “Olympic Melo,” which is to say playing him as a stretch-4 is in the best interest of the Rockets and Anthony. While he struggled in the most recent victory over the Indiana Pacers, in the two games prior against the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets, he scored 17 and 28, respectively, while shooting a combined 17 of 26 from the field in those two games.
Against the Nets, he shot nine triples and connected on six, while also adding four rebounds and doing it all in just 31 minutes. Anthony still offers plenty of value as a scorer, but his defense has been the major issue for the Rockets, who are not playing well defensively as a team with its new addition. Harden had 28 points on 7 of 15 shooting (5 of 12 from three) in the win over the Pacers. Clint Capela continues to evolve into one of the better 5-men on both ends of the court, and he added a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards.
The Rockets seem to be overcoming its struggles early in the season with a healthy cast, but the Thunder are hot—with or without Westbrook. It is easy to see why oddsmakers have set the line EVEN for this game. Although, 64 percent of bettors at Covers are favoring the Rockets.