NBA Playoff Contenders Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers

Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers
Bankers’ Life Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, Indiana

Sunday, April 12, 2015, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: NBA League Pass
Opening Line: Indiana -2
Current Line: Indiana -3 1/2
Opening Total: 209 1/2
Current Total: 207 1/2
Opening Money Line: Pacers -170 / Thunder +145
Current Money Line: Pacers -170 / Thunder +145 

Indiana hosts Oklahoma City Sunday in a battle of teams trying to make the playoffs.

Indiana hosts Oklahoma City Sunday in a battle of teams trying to make the playoffs.

Last season, both the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder made the conference finals. However, injuries to star players Paul George of the Pacers and MVP Kevin Durant of the Thunder derailed both team’s seasons this year. Still, both still have a chance of making the playoffs, though neither controls their own destiny. Both teams are currently in ninth place in their respective conferences as they meet Sunday in Indianapolis in what is must win for two desperate teams.

The Pacers are 36-43 and a game behind the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets for the final two playoff spots in the East. The Thunder are 43-36 and tied for the last playoff spot in the West with the New Orleans Pelicans, but the Pelicans hold the head to head tiebreaker. It is worth noting that if Oklahoma City were in the East, they would be the #6 seed.

Oklahoma City has won 6 of the last 8 against Indiana, including a 105-92 win at home February 24. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had one of his 11 triple doubles this season in that game.

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Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. The Thunder won at home Friday night 116-103 against the Sacramento Kings. The win snapped a four game losing streak for OKC. The Thunder have gone 2-6 in their last 8 games, a very bad time to go into the tank, not that there is a good time. Oklahoma City is 37-40-2 ATS and the total is 37-41-1 this season. The Thunder were 13.5 point favorites against the Kings and the total was 219.5.

 

Indiana is coached by Frank Vogel. The Pacers have won 4 straight games including a hard-fought 107-103 win Friday night at the Detroit Pistons. Indiana is 41-35-3 ATS and the total is 43-35-1 this season. The Pacers were 5.5 point favorites against the Pistons and the total was 192.5.

 

Oklahoma City is outscoring teams 104-102 this season. The Thunder are #6 in scoring but #23 in points allowed in the league. Oklahoma City is shooting 44.7% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. The Thunder make 76.1% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field and 34.2% from 3 point range. The Thunder are in the top ten in both categories. The Thunder lead the league in rebounding at 47.5 per game and opponents average 42.8 per game. OKC averages 20.6 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 7.3 steals and 5.5 blocks per game.

It isn’t clear where the Thunder would be without the brilliant play of Russell Westbrook. If he hadn’t missed so many games due to a broken hand early in the season, he would be in serious consideration for the MVP along with Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Houston’s James Harden. Westbrook averages 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He has really carried the load since Durant has only played in 27 games due to a broken foot this season. Durant averages 25.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists but is out for the season. Enes Kanter was acquired at the trade deadline from the Utah Jazz and has been very good. He averages 18.3 points and 11 rebounds a game. Serge Ibaka averages 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. He is out indefinitely with a knee injury and could return for the playoffs if the Thunder make it. Dion Waiters averages 12.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Anthony Morrow averages 10.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Perry Jones is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

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Indiana is outscoring teams 97.3-97 this season. The Pacers are #5 in points allowed but #24 in scoring. Indiana is shooting 44% from the field and 35.1% from 3 point range. The Pacers are #23 in field goal shooting. Indiana makes 76% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 43.6% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. The Pacers are #3 in field goal defense. Indiana averages 44.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.5 per game. The Pacers are in the top 10 in both categories. Indiana averages 21.5 assists, 13.4 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.

George Hill averages  15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1 steal a game. C.J. Miles averages 12.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Rodney Stuckey averages 12.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game. David West averages 11.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. Paul George returned last week from a horrific broken leg suffered in the off-season. In 3 games back he has averaged 11 points, 3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. He is only playing around 15 minutes a game but it is incredible he was able to return this season. Roy Hibbert averages 10.6 points, 7 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. C.J. Watson averages 10 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. He is out Sunday with an elbow injury. Chris Copeland is out indefinitely with an abdominal injury.

Oklahoma City is 6-2 ATS in Sunday games, and after a win by 10 points or more, 5-2 after a straight up win, 7-17 against teams with winning home records, 8-20-1 after failing to cover, 0-6 after allowing 100 points or more, 0-5 overall and 0-4 after scoring 100 points or more. The underdog is 14-6 ATS in this series recently. The Thunder are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 games against the Pacers.

Indiana is 9-1-1 ATS in Sunday games, 12-5 at home, 3-7 after scoring 100 points or more, and 2-5 after a straight up win. The over is 19-7 in this series recently including 10-1 in Indianapolis. The home team is 6-1 ATS in this series recently.

After about 3 months of some of the most incredible basketball ever seen, Westbrook appears to be wearing down. The load of having to do so much because of the injuries has taken its toll. Meanwhile, Indiana is getting healthy and will be very dangerous if they can somehow get in to the playoffs. Both teams are desperate and this is basically a playoff elimination game. I like the Pacers to win a close game with their defense.

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Posted by on Apr 12 2015. Filed under Headlines, NBA. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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