NBA Thursday Betting Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder at Chicago BullsOklahoma City Thunder at Chicago Bulls
Tip off: 8:05 PM EST
Spread: OKC -3
Betting Odds from Bovada
The Chicago Bulls have been surprisingly good without star point guard Derrick Rose, and are now 3-1 on the season. They’ll be three point underdogs against a team that isn’t playing nearly as well, according to NBA oddsmakers on Bovada.
The Thunder have gone 2-2 and are already seeming to regret the trade of James Harden (as if they really had a choice). Kevin Durant has been turning the ball over more, Russell Westbrook has been shooting poorly, and they are still trying to find their rhythm. Defensively, the Thunder have been very good this year, though, and they rank 6th in the NBA in points allowed (92.5 per game).
The Thunder lost to both the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks, and they’ve won against Portland and Toronto. The last outing was a 20 point victory over the Raptors, a game in which six Thunder players reached double figures, and the bench contributed 42 points, led by Kevin Martin’s 15. Martin has been an adequate Harden replacement, but he just doesn’t offer the same upside, and will never be the kind of talent capable of commanding double teams, as Harden could when he got hot.
The Bulls only loss of the season was an enigmatic one, losing to the the New Orleans Hornets at home. Victories over Sacramento, Cleveland, and Orlando don’t exactly speak volumes, but the Bulls have looked good against the mediocre competition they’ve faced.
Can they step it up against a much Thunder team?
It helps that they are at home, and NBA oddsmakers set the total low in this one, at 190. The game will be marked by excellent defense, and both teams have a lot of strength on the interior, with the Bulls trotting out Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to block shots, and the Thunder countering with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
While people will be focusing on the offense of Luol Deng and showdown against Durant, the story of the game will likely come down to which team rebounds the ball better and protects the paint the best. With Rose out indefinitely, Chicago’s offense has become more well rounded, but less potent. The Thunder remain a high powered team with two of the top ten players in the league, but it remains to be seen as to how the loss of Harden will ultimately affect their title hopes.