NBA All-Star voting has come to a close, and the starters (with the possible exception of Garnett) are pretty good selections by the fans. The East will be rounded out with Lebron, Carmelo, Wade and Rondo, while the West is represented by Kobe, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard (not sure about that selection, but understand it). The one I think all real basketball fans breathe a sigh of relief over is Chris Paul holding off a late push by Jeremy Lin. It would have been a real travesty if the hands-down best point guard on the planet lost an international popularity contest to a guy who clearly isn’t even an All-Star. If I had an MVP vote, I’d toss and turn trying to sort out Lebron, Durant and Chris Paul (NO on ‘Melo, seriously) for the top honor. Given the more substantial obstacles and unprecedented nature of the Clippers dominance, I think I’d lean Paul…
Just like in college hoops, it is a lighter slate on Sunday, but there are a few good ballgames and nice wagering opportunities. Let’s try to extend our modest two-game NBA winning streak tonight with a nice cap to a 67% week.
Oklahoma City Thunder -1 at Denver Nuggets (Total: 209)
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been absolutely ripping through the Western Conference the last two weeks. They have won six games in a row, all against Western Conference teams, including road wins at Denver, Portland and the Lakers and a blowout home win against Portland. But here is where people are going to get scared off from a wagering perspective. Denver is GOOD at home. Like REALLY GOOD. They are 15-3 this season and have at times looked as good as any team in the NBA when playing in their home lofty altitude. So is that home court advantage enough to derail the best team in the West??
I’m heading into tonight’s game with a slight lean OKC’s way – but it’s not a game I’d wager. Do so if you choose, but you can use good stats and compelling arguments to justify backing either side tonight. I love emotion and momentum and factor them into my picks all the time, especially during last season’s scorching Playoff run when emotion and coaching adjustments make a huge difference (how else do you justify the SAME two teams with little-changing batteries of statistics having such wildly different game results over the course of a six or seven game series?), but at the end of the day it is always helpful to have solid statistical analysis to rely on. The number for this matchup leans BOTH ways at the same time…
One place they are more conclusive is on the TOTAL staying under 209. These are two of the highest scoring teams in the NBA (OKC is #1), and each have hit the OVER in five consecutive games independently. That leads to a very inflated line of 209 tonight. In their individual matchups, they have been 3-0-1 UNDER in their last four games. They have been UNDER 4-0-1 in their last five matchups in Denver. On the road OKC’s scoring average is a full five points lower, but more interestingly, neither of these teams are bad defensive teams given their offensive proclivity. At home Denver holds opponents to just under 97 points, and OKC has a defensive average of around 95. Overall, it looks like about a 200-201 point game to me, which gives a little wiggle room with the big 209 total.
Free Pick: Total points UNDER 209