NBA Picks ATS: Atlanta Hawks at Oklahoma City Thunder

Atlanta Hawks AT Oklahoma City Thunder
December 31st, 2010 at 8:05 PM EST
Opening Line:  Oklahoma City -5.5
Current Line: Oklahoma City -5.5
Opening Total: 196
Current Total: 196
Opening Moneyline: Oklahoma City -240 / Atlanta +200
Current Moneyline:  Oklahoma City -220 / Atlanta +180

Russell Westbrook will try to force a high tempo game tonight which is to OKC's advantage.

Atlanta enters tonight’s game as winners of their past two contests against Golden State and Milwaukee.  All startes except Marvin Williams scored 15 points or more, with Josh Smith leading the way with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.  Horford compiled some nice stats too with 21 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

Oklahoma City won their last game against the struggling New Jersey Nets.  They used a 33-22 point second quarter to pull away and did not relinguish the lead in the second half, but rather built on it, outscoring the Nets 57-47 in the final two quarters.  In typical fashion, Durant scored 27 points, but in atypical fashion grabbed only 2 rebounds, as the Nets outrebounded Oklahoma City 35-34.

As you would expect with two teams with winning records, they both sport positive point differentials, but neither has been blowing out opponents.  Atlanta is +2.1, scoring 96.6 and giving up 94.5 and Oklahoma City is +2.4, scoring 103.8 and giving up 101.4.  Look for Russell Westbrook to try to push the pace of the game, which would be in the favor of the Thunder.  Atlanta prefers to play a slower pace and lacks the atleticism necessary to run with the Thunder.

Some betting trends:

The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Atlanta’s past 5 games and they have won 4 of them.  They have lost 5 of their last 6 on the road, however, and are 1-5 ATS in those games.  Atlanta has lost 12 of their past 13 games against the Thunder and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of their past 5 against Oklahoma City.  They are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in Oklahoma City and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of those 5 games.

Oklahoma City’s total has gone UNDER in 8 of their last 12 games and they are 8-3 over their last 11 games.  The total has gone OVER in 11 of their past 15 home games and they have won 7 of their past 9 at home, to pull them to 12-6 at home this season.

The key matchup for tonight’s game:

Marvin Williams / Joe Johnson vs. Kevin Durant

Durant is the league’s leading scorer and seldom drops a dud game.  Marvin Williams would draw the assignment, but it is worthy to note he is day to day with a sore lower back.  If he is unable to go, expect to see Jamal Crawford start at shooting guard which would push Joe Johnson to small forward and put him on Durant.  Either way, Durant will have a size and length advantage against both players and won’t have much trouble getting his shots off or having a big game.  After a semi-slow start to the season, Durant has upped his scoring average to 28.1 a game.  He has scored 25 or more in 13 of the past 14 games since coming back from injury, including a 44 point shalacking of the Denver Nuggets in an 8 point Thunder win.  For his career against the Hawks he is averaging 24.7 points per game.  Last game against the Hawks on February 2nd of last season, he scored 33 points and got to the line 14 times, hitting all 14.  The Hawks lack a strong interior defense, even with Horford patrolling the paint, and Durant may be able to get Horford into foul trouble which would only further weaken them as Zaza Pachulia would then be pressed into more duty.

Tonight’s game, as mentioned, brings together two teams that play different styles of ball.  It always is difficult to ascertain totals given those circumstances, so perhaps staying away from an over/under bet on the total is the way to go.

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