(32-14, 21-24-1 ATS)
Oklahoma City Thunder
(30-16, 23-23 ATS)
Keep a real close eye on the injury report in this one, as the Heat played on Friday night against the Detroit Pistons without both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. The Pistons are, quite frankly, one of the worst teams in the league, but it didn’t really seem to matter. Miami was very lucky to escape with a one point win at home. LeBron James scored 39 points and came up an assist and two boards shy of a triple-double. However, looking around at the rest of the players on this team makes it look like a rec league club… or a D-League squad at best. James is now averaging 26.1 points per game this year to lead the team, but Wade and Bosh are clearly the other main pieces to the puzzle that need to come together to help this team win it all. Without either one in the lineup, someone else is going to have to step up. Mike Miller has put together back to back solid games, but he is still only averaging 17 minutes and 4.5 points on the average night.
The Thunder had to fight tooth and nail in two OTs to take care of the Washington Wizards at home, and defeat would have been something that they would never have been allowed to forget, as the Wiz haven’t won a road game all year long. This is now back to back overtime games and is 10 straight that have been decided by nine points or fewer for Oklahoma City. Knowing that there was extra basketball to be played on Friday night, it should come as no surprise that Kevin Durant had 40 points, and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double with 35 points, 13 assists, and 13 boards. The numbers that Durant has put up of late are absolutely absurd. He has played over 49 minutes per game in his last two, and he has 87 points and 25 boards in those two games combined. The former Texas Longhorn is simply stunning, as he doesn’t have a game this year in which he has scored fewer than 16 points, and he has only been held below 20 three times. There have been 11 straight games with at least 22 on the board, and seven of those games featured at least 30 points. Needless to say, if Durant continues on this pace, he is well on his way to a league MVP award.
The uncertainty with the Heat really makes us wonder, even if they do appear to be at full strength, if they stand a chance of beating the Thunder on the road. Considering the fact that neither of these teams are all that deep, we’ll take our chances with the hosts, as we tend to believe that the Thunder are ready to make some real noise to proclaim themselves as title contenders.
NBA Free Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder