NBA Betting: Nuggets vs. Thunder Free Pick
NBA Betting Favorite: Thunder -4.5
The Oklahoma City Thunder had to fight hard, but they did pick up a win in Game One of this first round playoff matchup. This may well be the most entertaining matchup in the first round of either league. Both teams can get out and score in transition, but both teams are also improved on the defensive end. Denver has been playing much better since they traded away Carmelo Anthony, and the Thunder have been better since picking up Kendrick Perkins. I expect this to be a long series.
The Nuggets have only failed to cover the spread four times since February, when Anthony was traded. It was the Nuggets who jumped out to an early 13 point lead in Game One, but Oklahoma City chipped away and beat the Nuggets in the final minutes of the game. Danilo Gallinari and Nene both had a terrific game in the opener, and they’ll need a great effort both of them in this game as well. Denver definitely misses Arron Afflalo, who is expected to miss Game Two with a strained hamstring. J.R. Smith didn’t get going in the first game, and in order to win this one, Denver will likely need a solid game from him.
Oklahoma City won Game One largely because they knocked down their free throws. The Thunder have been doing that all year long, and in close games it is often the deciding factor. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 41 and 31 points respectively. The Thunder knocked down nine three-pointers, and they narrowly won the battle on the boards. Oklahoma City also showed up with solid energy on the defensive end. Serge Ibaka had four blocks and the team finished with eight blocks overall. They’ll probably need a better effort out of James Harden in Game Two. Harden only scored five points in the series opener.
I expect another close game between two evenly matched teams. The Thunder’s ability to knock down free throws in the clutch will likely help them pull out another close game. I expect the shooting percentages to come down a notch in this one. I think the under is the best value on the board.
NBA Free Pick: Nuggets/Thunder Under 207
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