NBA Betting Picks: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets
Toyota Center – Houston, Texas

Thursday, January 16, 2014, 9:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Houston -2
Current Line: Houston -2 1/2
Opening Total: 206
Current Total; 207 1/2
Opening Money Line: Rockets -130 / Thunder +110
Current Money Line: Rockets -140 / Thunder +120

The Thunder are 2.5 point road underdogs at the Houston Rockets Thursday.
The Thunder are 2.5 point road underdogs at the Houston Rockets Thursday.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets renew their rivalry Thursday night in Houston. The Thunder are 28-10 and are a game behind the Portland Trail Blazers in the Northwest Division. The Rockets are 26-14 and 5 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. Oklahoma City would currently be the three seed in the Western Conference and Houston would be the #5 seed.

This is the second meeting this season between Oklahoma City and Houston. The Thunder won 117-86 December 29 in OKC. They will meet twice more after this game, March 11 in Oklahoma City and April 4 in Houston. These two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last year.  In that series, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook tore his meniscus in his knee. He has since had 3 surgeries on the same knee and is out until after the All-Star game. The Thunder would escape in six games against the Rockets, but lost in the second round to the Memphis Grizzlies without Westbrook.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. The Thunder have lost 3 of their last 4 games including a 90-87 loss at the Grizzlies Tuesday night. OKC is 20-18 ATS and the total is 19-19 this season. The Thunder host the Golden State Warriors tomorrow night. Really, though they are just treading water until Westbrook returns from his injury.

The Thunder are outscoring teams 105-98 this season. Oklahoma City is #6 in scoring and #7 in points allowed in the NBA. The Thunder are shooting 46.3% from the field and 34.2% from 3 point range. OKC is #6 in field goal percentage, but #23 in 3 point shooting. The Thunder are #2 in free throw shooting at 81.7% from the line. Opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 34.1% from 3 point range. The Thunder are in the top five in the league in both categories. OKC averages 46.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 41.8. The Thunder lead the league in rebounding and are 4th in rebounds allowed. Oklahoma City averages 21.5 assists, 15.7 turnovers, 7.9 steals and 6.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 21.4 assists, 14.7 turnovers, 8.5 steals, and 4 blocks per game.

Forward Kevin Durant is having an MVP caliber season. He leads the league in scoring at 29.8 points per game, and also averages 8.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Durant is probable with a wrist injury. Westbrook averages 21.3 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Forward Serge Ibaka averages 13.9 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.35 points per game. Point guard Reggie Jackson averages 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Guard Jeremy Lamb averages 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Guard Thabo Sefolosha averages 6.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Nick Collison, Steven Adams, Derek Fisher, Perry Jones and Kendrick Perkins make up the rest of the rotation.

Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. The Rockets have won five of their last six games and three in a row. Houston completed a four game road trip last night with 103-100 win at the New Orleans Pelicans. The Rockets are 20-18-2 ATS and the total is 19-20-1.

The Rockets are outscoring teams 105-102 this season. Houston is #4 in scoring and #19 in points allowed in the NBA. The Rockets shoot 47.4% from the field and 34.2% from three point range. Houston is #3 in field goal percentage, but #22 in three point shooting. The Rockets are #29 in free throw shooting at 69% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.4% from the field and 34.8% from three point range. Houston is #5 in field goal defense and #10 in three point defense. The Rockets average 45.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.3 per game. Houston is #8 in rebounds and #8 in rebounds allowed. The Rockets average 20 assists, 7.4 steals, 6.1 blocks, and 16.3 turnovers per game. Opponents average 21.3 assists, 8.7 steals, 5.6 blocks, and 13.8 turnovers per game.

Guard James Harden is averaging 24.6 points, 5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Harden is fifth in the league in scoring. Harden was acquired in a trade with the Thunder just before the start of last season. Power forward/center Dwight Howard averages 18.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal, and 1.8 blocks per game. He is third in rebounding in the league. Small forward Chandler Parson is day to day with a knee injury but has played the last two games. Parsons averages 17.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Point guard Jeremy Lin averages 14.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.1 steal a game. Forward Terrance Jones averages 10.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. Back-up point guard Patrick Beverley is out until at least early February with a broken hand. He averages 9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Omri Casspi and guards Aaron Brooks and Francisco Garcia also get time in the rotation. Brooks is questionable with a knee injury. Center Omer Asik is out indefinitely with a thigh injury. Forward Greg Smith is listed as questionable with a knee injury.

Oklahoma City is 6-1 against Southwest Division teams, 5-1 against teams with winning records, 7-2 after failing to cover, 6-2 after a straight up loss, 1-4 in road games, and against Western Conference teams, and 1-6 when the opponent allowed 100 points or more in their previous game. The under is 6-1 in this series recently.

Houston is 5-1 ATS in back-to-backs, 4-1 when the starters play more than 160 minutes in the previous game, 6-2 after failing to cover, 5-2 after allowing 100 points or more, 37-15-3 in Thursday games, 3-9-1 after a straight up win, 1-3-1 against teams with winning records, and against Western Conference teams.

Without Westbrook, Oklahoma City has struggled to find consistent scoring other than Durant. Ibaka and Jackson can light it up sometimes, but if Durant doesn’t get scoring help, the Thunder lose more often than not. Last week, in a game against Utah, Durant had 48 points, but the Thunder still lost 112-101. Houston has been battling injuries, but still has more depth than the Thunder. I like Houston to win a close game at home.

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