The NBA season rolls on and we go straight in early on this time with a pick in order to try and take advantage of some poor lines early on.
OKC Thunder -5.5 to beat SAC Kings @ 1.70 (888Sport) – 3 points
The OKC Thunder are heading into the game after a massive turnaround with the return of their 2 all stars. Westbrook in particular has been outstanding this season with 25 points, 7 assists and 2 steals per game and if they get back to a winning record, he could be a contender for MVP of the season. Durant has been slow off the mark because of the foot injury, but slowly started developing the rhythm. After averaging 17 points for 2 games, he went lights off in their last game scoring 23 points and getting 8 rebounds in a win over the Phoenix Suns.
They still have a deep team with likes of Ibaka, Morrow, Adams, Perkins, Jackson and Lamb who have given a lot of support to their 2 players and have got some good experience of playing when their big players haven’t been there. They have now built a 6 game winning streak and and are now 0.5 games back of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference despite starting 5 out when their All-Stars returned.
The Kings are in disarray, they have struggled all season, going 2-7 without their All-Star Demarcus Cousions, who is expected to be out for a while. They also last night fired coach Mike Malone and Ty Corbin will take interim charge of the team. The Kings are also missing Caspi who was an experienced veteran for them. The struggles were clearly witnessed in their last game against the poor Detroit Pistons who beat them and even lost to poor teams like the Lakers and the Magic in the within the last 5 games. Defensively they have been poor and only Rudy Gay has been leading them well on the offensive end.
I expect the Thunder to roll over the Kings tonight; but I have taken 2 points less just for a safety sake for a more bankable pick here.
DAL Mavericks -4.5 to beat NY Knicks @ 1.69 (MarathonBet) – 2.5 points
The Dallas Mavericks are coming on the back of a poor performance against the Golden State Warriors but also lost to Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns in the last 5 games, which show cases how they struggle to put away good teams. They don’t have such an issue against poorer teams and especially against Eastern Conference teams where they are currently 10-2 against them.
They come into this game against a poor Knicks team with Nowitzki and Ellis leading the scoring at 20 points a piece. Chandler Parsons was their big free agent addition in the summer who is chipping in well with 16 points per game as well as the trade to get Chandler who is back to All Star form with 11 points and 12 boards per game. Mavericks are one of the better teams when you look at their bench strength with the likes of Barea, Harris, Aminu, Knight and Jefferson who have given strong production for them.
The Knicks have struggled all season, specifically losing 12 of their last 13 games. They managed to take the Raptors to OT last time around, but I don’t see a repeat of that performance again tonight. Bargnani, Early and Shumpert are definitely out of this game while JR Smith is a game time decision. Carmelo Anthony has also been struggling with a left knee injury and could be a matter of time before he decides to have surgery and call time on the season if the Knicks are playing that bad. A lot of pressure will fall on Tim Hardaway Jr who managed a good 18 points last game out, but he will have an interesting match up against Ellis tonight.
When the Knicks came to Dallas, the Mavs beat the Knicks by 7 points after an Overtime win; and I am expecting Dallas to complete the season sweep against a struggling Knicks team with another victory against the Eastern conference to extend that record to 11-2.