Thunder at Rockets Picks and Game 6 NBA Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 5/3/2013
Do you believe in momentum? That’s a question you have to ask yourself when handicapping this game. If you do, then this series has been a case of swinging momentum. The Thunder won the first three games and seemed relatively unbothered by the loss of Russell Westbrook — or at least as unbothered you can be while losing a player of that caliber. Houston hasn’t gone away, though, and in the last two they have seized momentum and made a series of what was starting to look like a runaway for the Thunder.
This game is, by definition, a must-win game for the Rockets. If they lose their season ends. It is close to a must-win for the Thunder as well, though. They can afford to lose in terms of survival, but psychologically they would really be sacrificing whatever edge they have left if they let this series slip away on them. They are an elite team — or were with Westbrook. They need to prove that they can maintain that level of play, and heading to a Game 7 after opening a 3-0 lead doesn’t offer much proof.
Thunder at Rockets Betting Storylines
The first thing that stands out about the last game — a 107-100 Houston win in Oklahoma City was the late struggles of Kevin Durant. He had 36 points in the game but was completely held scoreless in the fourth quarter. This shows the biggest problem that the Thunder have right now. The Thunder relied very heavily on Durant and Westbrook to provide a huge chunk of the offensive production. With Westbrook out and without another viable player to step up and fill that role, Durant clearly feels the responsibility to take the team on his shoulder and do it all himself. It can work at times, but it makes it too easy for the opponent to focus on him and disrupt the team. No one else was scoring — Kevin Martin was particularly awful — so the Rockets could really commit to Durant without risk. We really need to see two things in response to that this game. First, Durant needs to show the maturity to recognize that he is actually hurting his team by trying to operate on an island. He needs to work with his tea, and provide more depth than the Rockets can cover. They are making it too easy for Houston. Second, his teammates need to step up, relax, and help ease the burden. If that starts to happen early then the Thunder have a talent advantage that they can exploit. They can’t play from behind, though. Durant also can’t afford to look across the court and dwell on just how badly he misses James Harden in this circumstance.
Another thing that stands out about this game is the line movement. There is little doubt that the Thunder were the clear public choice heading into this series. They still had the respect of the oddsmakers because they were installed as one-point road favorites despite the way the last two games have turned out and even though they are just 2-3 ATS in the series. Very quickly, though, the line was bet from +1 for the Rockets to -1, with -1.5 appearing in some places as I write this. That line movement isn’t the most extreme we will see in these playoffs by any means. What makes it interesting, though, is that the majority of bets are still coming in on the Thunder. That means that books either got some strong, smart money on the Rockets, or they don’t fear Oklahoma City action. Either way, it’s noteworthy.
Thunder at Rockets NBA Game 6 Odds and Betting Trends
Houston has covered three of the last four games in the series. The only one they didn’t cover, though, was the only one in which they were favored. They were one-point favorites in their first home game of the series and lost by three. Oklahoma City is 8-1 ATS in their last nine road games against teams with a winning home record. The “under” is 4-1 in this series.
Thunder at Rockets Picks and Game 6 Betting Predictions
I don’t like how the Thunder have approached the last two games at all. They still have the most talented player on the court by a wide margin, though, and if they can settle down and relax they have a clear edge overall. This is a clear case of the Thunder beating themselves as much as the Rockets are beating them. I trust their leadership and their coaching staff to get back on track.
I would have accepted the Thunder as slight favorites because I think they deserve to be, so I’ll happily take the extra couple of points and run with them. Oklahoma City is the pick.
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