Top NBA Picks: Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Hornets

Oklahoma City Thunder AT New Orleans Hornets
December 10th, 2010  8:00 PM EST
Opening Betting Line:  New Orleans -3
Current Betting Line: New Orleans -3
Current Total:  197
Moneyline:  New Orleans -146 / Oklahoma City Thunder +132

Westbrook has emerged as one of the best point guards in the NBA

Both teams enter the game with nearly indentical records (New Orleans 14-7 and Oklahoma City 15-8) and are currently sitting in 6th and 7th position in the rugged Western Conference.  Oklahoma City has won 10 of their past 14 games and won their last time out against the woeful Wolves. New Orleans has lost 4 of their last 6 games, but won their last time out against Detroit in decisive fashion.  Oklahoma City has lost 10 of their last 13 in New Orleans, including 8 of their last 9.

The total has gone OVER in four of the last five meeting between the teams in New Orleans.  New Orleans is 2-5 ATS in the last 7 games against the Thunder.  Over the last ten games against Oklahoma City, New Orleans is averaging 102.0 points per game while giving up 93.8, which is UNDER the current the NBA Vegas picks, which set the line at 197, 1.2 points over their last 10 game average.

Despite their impressive 15-8 record, Oklahoma City has a -0.1 point differential.  New Orleans, meanwhile has a +3.0 point differential.

Neither team is missing any significant key players.

Key Matchups to watch tonight:

Kevin Durant vs. Trevor Ariza

This is obviously not a key matchup because of Ariza, but any time you play Oklahoma City, the small forward position is an obvious key to winning the game.  Last game on November 29th, Ariza held Durant to 26 points, but the Thunder still won by six points.  Durant has scored 28+ in his last three games, after coming off an injury.  Ariza won’t challenge Durant much on the offensive end, and will allow Durant the ability to wander around and play good help side defense.  Ariza is shooting under 40% from the floor and under 30% from three this year.  He’s never been a particulary good shooter and after being heavily relied on in Houston last year he has settled back into a complimentary role with the Hornets.

Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul

This is a matchup of two of the best point guards in the league.  Westbrook has gone from being a very good player last year to being a great player this year.  He’s already won Western Conference player of the week twice and played out of his mind basketball (in a good way) when Durant was out.  Westbrook is averaging more than seven points more per game this year, scoring 23.7 points per game, 9th in the league, and also dishing out 8.6 assists per night, 7th best in the league.  He and Durant account for very close to half of the Thunder’s points, with Jeff Green accounting for about half of the rest.  Chris Paul is having a down year this season.  It can partly be attributed to him playing 4 minutes less per game, as his scoring is 3.4 points per game below his career average.  He’s not taking the same volume of shots, and he doesn’t need to, as the Hornets are playing well, and it’s not like he isn’t heavily involved in the offense; he is, and he’ll make Russell Westbrook work.  This matchup promises to be a very exciting one.

It goes without saying that when you have two players that account for so much of the scoring that the game is in their hands.  If Durant can get going and have a big night, Oklahoma City has a strong chance of winning the game.  Containing the Chris Paul – David West pick and roll will be the key for Oklahoma City.

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