NBA Expert Picks ATS: Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves

Oklahoma City Thunder AT Minnesota Timberwolves
Jan 26, 2011 at 8 PM EST
Opening Line:  OKC -5.5
Current Line: OKC -5.5
Opening Total: 220.5
Current Total: 220
Opening Moneyline:  OKC -215 / MIN +185
Current Moneyline:  OKC -225 / MIN +185

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has shot just 25% from three in his last four games

Things went from going really well to really poor for the Oklahoma City Thunder.  After winning four games straight, they have dropped three of their last four, and poor shooting is to blame.  Superstar forward Kevin Durant is shooting just 36.5% during the last four games and is just 25% from three during that stretch.  During the stretch the Thunder as a team are only averaging 97.8 points per game and shooting 43.8% from the floor.  Turnovers are to blame as well.  Monday night at New Orleans, the Thunder committed 27 turnovers which led to 27 Hornets points.

Scott Brooks doesn’t blame lack of effort as a reason, however.  “I’m proud of our guys and their effort,” said coach Brooks, “That effort will win a lot of games and we missed some shots down the stretch that we would normally make. I would have liked to see that (last offensive) play executed and we get the last shot and if we miss it, we go to overtime, but it did not happen.”

These woes should come to an end tonight against a team that the Thunder have performed extremely well against in the recent past.  In the past two games against the Timberwolves the Thunder have shot 53.3% and won both matchups, and four straight in fact.

Some betting trends:

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of OKC’s last 5 games and the total has gone UNDER in 9 of their last 12 on the road.  They are 2-6 SU in their last 8 road games and 5-0 SU in their last 5 against the Wolves.  OKC is 7-1 SU in their last 8 road games against Minnesota, as well.

Minnesota is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games and 1-9 SU in their last 10 games.  They are 1-5 SU in their last 6 home games and 1-5 ATS in those games, as well.  They are 0-5 SU in their last 5 against OKC and 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games against OKC.  Minnesota is 1-7 SU in their last 8 at home against OKC and 6-11-1 ATS in their last 18 at home against the Thunder.

Key Matchups:

Jeff Green vs. Kevin Love

Love is a lock to make his first all star appearance this season, even if the Timberwolves’ play won’t be the reason why.  Love is still sitting far ahead of Dwight Howard for the league lead in rebounding and is shooting like a guard from three (43%) while scoring 21 a game.  Green is undersized to cover most power forwards, and while Love isn’t particularly big, his wide frame and ability to box out will give Green fits.  Oklahoma City doesn’t really have any alternatives either with no good big bodies to bring in off the bench.  Green isn’t a good rebounder to begin with (5.5 per game), so Kevin Love should have a dominant night on the glass and be able to get a lot of easy putbacks on the offensive end.  Moreover, he won’t have to worry about stretching the court to cover Green from behind the arc.  Green is shooting just 28% from three this year, 5% under his career average.

Kevin Durant vs. Michael Beasley

Beasley has been a pleasant surprise for Timberwolves fans and management.  Acquired for the ludicrious price of a mere second round pick, the #2 overall selection of the 2008 draft has put up great numbers this year and has looked like the player many thought he would be when he came out of Kansas State three years ago.  His scoring average is up 5.7 points over last season, at 20.5  and while he isn’t rebounding it that well, he is inexplicably stroking threes at a high percentage (41.9%) this year, something he didn’t do last year (and though he shot a high percentage in his rookie year, it was on a small sample size).  Durant will give Beasley fits on defense though.  While Beasley is listed at 6’10”, he much closer to 6’7″ and Durant is a true 6’10”.  His length will get him a lot of easy shots over Beasley and if he can start to shoot a better percentage than he has in recent games, this could be a blowout in OKC’s favor.

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