Happy Holidays everyone! I hope it is a great day for you and yours – and I hope we can make it even a little better with a few NBA winners for the stockings. Christmas Day has become the marquee day for the NBA, a day which they control the entire sports viewing landscape; no NFL or even college football to compete with – a chance to re-introduce themselves to the nationwide casual sporting public. This year featured five matchups, starting at noon EST and going all the way past midnight, and while I’d have preferred to see the Pacers in one of the games rather than the sorry Knicks and Nets, there are some really good and interesting matchups.
We will start with the 2:30 game featuring Oklahoma City and New York, but will be back later this afternoon with a pair of picks for the evening matchups, so be sure to check back.
Today’s Free Pick:
Oklahoma City Thunder -8.5 at New York Knicks (Total: 201.5)
The Thunder have very quietly emerged as the best team in the NBA, and no one seems to have noticed. All the attention has focused on the Pacers and Heat jockeying for Eastern supremacy and the fact that the West is do deep and dominant, that very quietly the Thunder have risen to the top spot of most NBA power polls. They are 9-1 over their last ten games, and a fantastic 9-4 on the road. Most importantly, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are combining for an efficient 50+ points a night (anyone who though the Thunder were better without Westbrook was insane), and look like the team that held a lead in the 2011 Finals early in the series.
Meanwhile, everyone knows the Knicks have been a disaster. Fortunately for them the Nets have been even worse and more fun to chastise, so some of the stink has been deflected, but it will be front and center for a national audience to see today. They are averaging 95 points per game as a team (allowing 98) but the manner in which they get their points is rarely pleasing to the eye. They shoot just 43% from the floor and average just 20.1 assists; that’s the product of a lot of one on one basketball and a lot of contested jump shots.
I like Oklahoma City to rip into them today, even if ‘Melo DOES play. Right now it looks like both he AND Felton could be out today, which makes a tall task even taller. Oklahoma City is 5-0 ATS in their last five road games and 6-1 ATS when coming off two days rest. Look for a fresh, more talented OKC team to have their way in MSG this afternoon.