Oklahoma City at Boston
Time: 7 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: OKC -4.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
Carmelo Anthony has adapted now to a tertiary role on the team, with Paul George and Russell Westbrook doing the heavy offensive-lifting. Anthony still averages 17.4 points and six rebounds per game, but he does so in “just” 32.7 minutes a night, while George and Westbrook play 36-plus respectively. Steven Adams is making a strong impact on the interior as one of the most underrated 5-men in the Association, and his 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds do precious little justice to what an impact he has as the main defensive piece in OKC’s strong defensive attack.
Veteran Andre Roberson provides similar role at the tune of 26.6 minutes of tough defense per game, while Terrence Ferguson has looked promising a rookie in his spot minutes. Ferguson becomes crucial with Roberson possibly out for the season due to injury. In addition to Ferguson, Corey Brewer has basically spelled “Roberson” plus some shooting–so perhaps he was not as crucial as previously thought…
Moreover, the Thunder quietly have built some depth on its roster, and Raymond Felton still serves as a good spark in the second unit, along with small forward Jerami Grant, who has averaged 7.5 points per game in his 52 appearances this year. Roberson is out for the year, and that is a huge blow to OKC.
The Thunder seems to have just enough firepower and just enough depth to be a top-5 team in the West, but do they have enough to contend with Golden State and Houston?
Crucial in replacing the injured Gordon Hayward has been rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year swingman Jaylen Brown, who ranks No. 3 and No. 2, respectively, on the team in scoring.
Tatum has been nothing short of sensational and is averaging 13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 30.5 minutes a night. Brown has improved nearly every facet of his game and is good for 14.1 points and 0.97 steals per night.?But perhaps the biggest difference maker has been franchise player Kyrie Irving. Irving was acquired at the “low” cost of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder from the Cleveland Cavs this past offseason, and he is playing the best and most efficient basketball of his NBA career.
Irving has averaged 24.9 points per game and five assists per night while posting a team-high PER of 25.4. Along with Irving’s career year has come one from veteran Al Horford, who has developed into one of the league’s most effective high-post passers.
Horford ranks second in assists behind Irving (5.1) at 4.9 per game—and he is shooting a blistering 43 percent from three-point range while connecting on nearly 50 percent of his field goals overall.
Outside of these highly effective four players, has been the strong play of a cast of role players: Marcus Smart is still one of the league’s best defenders, and Marcus Morris seems to have found a home in Boston, replacing the colossal bust that was Jared Sullinger several seasons ago.
Second-Year guard Terry Rozier has developed nicely in his second season, and despite his shooting struggles (40 percent field goals) has looked as though he will eventually be a very integral part of the team.?In 23 minutes a night, Rozier makes his impact known, though his 9.3 points per game may seem humble.?The fact remains, Brad Stevens simply knows best how to milk the talent of his roster, and the disaster that Hayward incurred is largely forgotten by a Celtics’ fanbase thinking “title” no matter the cost.