Western Conference Betting Action: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

durant-harden-thunder-nbaHouston at Oklahoma City
Time: 7 PM ET, Dec 29, 2013
Spread: OKC -4.5
Total: 208

Betting Odds courtesy of Bovada

The Houston Rockets sit at 21-11 on the season but are facing a tough test in an Oklahoma City team which has lost just 5 of 29 on the season and is considered a 4.5-point favorite according to NBA oddsmakers at Bovada. The Rockets possess the league’s third highest scoring offense, responsible for generating 106.3 points per game. Defense has been problematic for Kevin McHale’s team though, as the Rockets surrender 101.8 per game.

The Thunder are a good pick to exploit that defense. The team relies heavily on its duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who combine to average 49.6 points per game. Westbrook also leads the team in assists (7 per game) and steals (1.8 per game).   The guard is out until the All-Star break.

Forward Serge Ibaka has been a good third option for the Thunder, averaging 14.3 points and nine rebounds per game, while sophomore guard Reggie Jackson has made the incremental improvements that were expected. Jackson is posting 12.4 points per game in 25 minutes of play per night, helping round out a Thunder rotation which also includes second-year sharpshooter Jeremy Lamb and defensive stopper Thabo Sefololsha.

Houston has seen Dwight Howard return much closer to the form he possessed as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Orlando. The center is averaging 18 points and 13.4 rebounds per game and had 24 points and 18 rebounds in the team’s victory over Charlotte last game.

Both Howard and star shooting guard James Harden are posting PERs over 20 (Harden, 21.0; Howard 22.6) and the Rockets are a team that is closing in on being true contenders. The lack of reliability from the 1-spot and the 4-spot are what Daryl Morey will seek to address via trade, with Omer Asik still a player that Houston is likely to deal before the February trade deadline.

Chandler Parsons will also need to be resigned this summer. The swingman is averaging 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. His shooting and versatility is crucial, and Morey will have to delve deep into the checkbook to retain Parsons’ services because he is a guy who will generate a lot of interest from suitors this summer.

HOU Trends: 4-0 ATS in last 4 on 0 days rest; OVER 6-1 in last 7 on 0 days rest; 1-6-1 ATS in last 8 following SU win.

OKC Trends: 4-0 ATS in last 4 following ATS loss; UNDER 5-1 in last 6 vs teams with winning SU records; 5-1 ATS in last 6 vs teams with winning pct above .600

Head-to-head: UNDER 5-1 in last 6 meetings.

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