Oklahoma City Thunder at Brooklyn Nets
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA League Pass)
Spread: OKC -14
Betting odds c/o Pincle
The Brooklyn Nets may or may not be taking, but it is inching closer and closer to the worst record in the East, either way.
Brooklyn has lost five straight and nine of its last 10, and now has just a five-game lead on the Sixers for the East’s battle for the cellar. Brooklyn will host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 6:30 Central on NBA League Pass. NBA oddsmakers are favoring the Thunder heavily, setting the line 14-points in favor of Kevin Durant and company.
And rightfully so. The Thunder have the second-longest winning streak in the Western Conference as winners of its past seven games. OKC also has the third-best point differential in the West, with +8.5
This is the OKC team we are accustomed to seeing after an injury-riddled campaign last year that saw the Thunder miss the postseason. Kevin Durant carried the Thunder past Dallas last night, winning 109-106 as the Thunder bench scored 16 points in the final quarter, helping Durant when it has so infrequently done so this season.
Even with the lack of support, the Thunder really only need its top-two options to get it going. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will dominate, but further help from the supporting cast is what renders OKC a true contender.
In the win over Dallas, Durant shot 10 of 21 from the field and Westbrook was good for 8 of 19 as the tandem combined for 40 points in the win. Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler and Dion Waiters all reached double-figures off the Thunder bench, a good sign for Billy Donovan and company as this team tries to come together to figure out new ways to score beyond Durant and Westbrook.
Serge Ibaka has shown little improvement on the offensive end, but he is still good for 13 points per game to go along with his 2.22 blocks per contest. The real key to the Thunder getting enough offensive production lies in Kanter and Waiters. Kanter is averaging 11.7 points per game this year, and Waiters is good for 9.7 points, but these are two talented lottery picks capable of developing into far more.
Big man Steven Adams remains a good (if not dirty) source of hustle off the bench, though the Thunder were robbed of a victory in Portland when the Blazers began hacking him late in the game to force the 63 percent free throw shooter to the line. 63 percent is not horrible, but when it came at the cost of trading one point for three on the other end, it was too much for Donovan to come up with any combatting strategy against Damian Lillard who was on fire. Adams is also listed as questionable for this game with an elbow injury.
That game was the Thunder’s last loss before reeling off the seven straight wins…
The Nets, meanwhile, have now dropped 11 of its past 12 games and posted the worst rating of all teams in the month of January thus far. Outside of its 4/5 combo of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, there are few pieces likely to draw interest at the trade deadline. Given Brooklyn’s poor cap positioning and lack of draft picks (a result of the deal that brought Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn), rebuilding is going to be tough.
Lopez is still a dominant offensive center good for 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, but his defensive abilities have ramped up some too. That makes him an attractive target for some teams if the Nets are willing to bargain. Lope is averaging 1.86 blocks per game, becoming a formidable rim protector on a team that still allows far too much penetration.
Nets guard Jarrett Jack is out for the season with a torn ACL, which is just one more blow to compound the frustration the Nets are experiencing. Jack may not be a top-flight guard, but he is, or was, Brooklyn’s best.