NBA Picks: Nuggets at Thunder Odds and Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 4/8/2011
This will be the second time this week that the Nuggets and the Thunder square off. Earlier this week, the Thunder went into Denver and upset the red-hot Nuggets. The story heading into that game was that the Nuggets could potentially catch the Thunder and pick up the fourth seed, but Oklahoma City has now wrapped up the Northwest Division title.
Oklahoma City is now assured of at least the fourth seed, and they actually have a chance of overtaking the Dallas Mavericks for the third seed in the Western Conference. It was the Nuggets who actually helped the Thunder’s cause on Wednesday night with a win at Dallas. Keep in mind, if things stay the way they are right now, this game will be a preview of a terrific first-round playoff matchup.
Some people wondered if the Nuggets might still have a solid team after the Carmelo Anthony trade, but I don’t think anyone expected Denver to play as well as they have the last few weeks. How good have the Nuggets been of late? Denver is 17-3-1 ATS in their 21 games since Anthony was traded to New York. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Raymond Felton have all proven to be important pieces for this team. Gallinari is the team’s leading scorer at 15.5 points per game, and his ability to stretch the defense really helps this team. Chandler and Felton have both fit right into George Karl’s offensive system, which encourages the team to move the ball and push the tempo.
It is evident that there is less one-on-one offense now in Denver, and that has helped the team immensely. What about the defensive end of the floor? In the last 21 games, Denver has allowed just 95 points per game. Over the past few years, the Nuggets have been undone by their defensive mistakes. If they are able to continue playing well on the defensive end, they might be the surprise team of the playoffs. Denver needs Aaron Afflalo to get healthy. Afflalo is the team’s best defender, and he has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury.
The Thunder are definitely finishing the regular season on the right note. Oklahoma City has won 16 of their last 20 games, and they have picked up some huge road victories during that period. The deal with Boston appears to be working out nicely for Oklahoma City thus far.
The team has been cautious with Kendrick Perkins because of his knee injury, but he has been a terrific boost to the Thunder’s defense. Despite playing limited minutes, Perkins has 10 or more rebounds in five of the team’s last 10 games. Rebounding used to be a question mark for this team, but now it is an area of relative strength. Kevin Durant is still the leader of this team, and he can take over a game at any point. Durant is averaging 27.8 points per game, and he has benefited from the emergence of Russell Westbrook as a terrific second option on offense. Westbrook has become one of the best point guards in the league, and he has bumped his scoring average up to 21.8 points per game this year. Serge Ibaka is another youngster who continues to improve his game. Ibaka leads the team in field goal percentage, rebounds per game, as well as blocks per game.
While Oklahoma City didn’t start out the year the way many expected, this team is playing its best basketball at the right time. Everyone knows this is a dangerous team, and I don’t think anyone will want to see Oklahoma City in the playoffs.
Nuggets at Thunder Betting Odds and Line Movement
The Nuggets were four-point favorites when they hosted the Thunder earlier this week, and now the tables are turned. Oklahoma City has been listed as four-point favorites in this one. The posted total opened at 203.5, but is has already dropped to 201.5.
Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Trends
Denver is 16-5 ATS in their last 21 road games
Oklahoma City is 9-3 ATS in their last 12 meetings against Denver
The ‘under’ is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings between these two teams
NBA Picks: Nuggets at Thunder Predictions
Oklahoma City needs to win this game if they expect to move up in the playoff standings, and I think they probably will. Denver has some injury questions, while Oklahoma City is very healthy right now. Although I lean to the Thunder on the side, I believe the best bet on this game is the ‘under’. Both teams are improving defensively, and I think this one stays ‘under’ the posted total.
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