The NBA does it right each year for celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and this year is no exception, with games starting at 1pm and televised throughout the day. There are some fantastic games to watch today, but from a wagering perspective, one game leaps off the page at me. Let’s dig into Boston v OKC and keep our three-game winning streak rolling.
Oklahoma City Thunder -2.5 @ Boston Celtics
I’ll say this for our friends in Vegas; they sure aren’t being fickle in regards to the struggling Boston Celtics. Despite entering tonight’s game at 4-7 and the visiting Thunder perhaps the best team in the NBA at 11-2, the line is still only a scant two points in favor of the visiting Thunder. The line jumps up and screams “freebie” – but whenever that is the case I like to take a deeper look inside some of the numbers and make sure there isn’t something glaring that I’m overlooking… so let’s take a deeper look into tonight’s Celtics v Thunder matchup.
The Thunder have been fantastic all season long. The emergence of James Harden as an NBA-All Star caliber player gives them three superstars; joining Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and making them nearly unguardable for opponents. Offensively, the Thunder are a machine, piling up an average of 100.2 points per night. Especially compared to Boston’s woeful 89.8 average. Considering both teams are within a few point of each other defensively (93 to 95.1) and there is a sizeable advantage for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City has won six straight games; four of them by double digits and all but one of them by five or more points. They are also 5-1 on the road this season, so the trip to Boston shouldn’t be too daunting for the well-rested Thunder.
Boston enters at 4-7 and losers of four in a row, including home and home losses to Indiana. They have averaged under 79 points per game in their losses, and have given up in 89.5ppg. That’s a recipe for disaster, and the team knows it. These Celtics, despite 36-year old Ray Allen’s superb start, are collectively showing their age. They are having difficulty initiating their offense and getting quality looks and are giving up five to seven easy baskets a night that you would never have seen them allow in the past three years.
Add it all together; a sluggish defense, old legs, the high-octane athleticism and explosiveness of OKC – and it is really hard to see Boston getting a win tonight. The more I look at the numbers, the more this feels like a 6 or 7 point line. If you can grab it at 2.5, I’d do it and smile.