Thunder, Nuggets collide
March 1, 2013
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OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (42-15) at DENVER NUGGETS (37-22)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oklahoma City -2 & 220.5
A pair of high-scoring teams riding three-game win streaks collide in Denver on Friday night when the Nuggets host the Thunder.
Oklahoma City leads the NBA in scoring (106.8 PPG) and has pumped in 116.0 PPG during three straight lopsided home wins (SU and ATS) over Minnesota (by 16), Chicago (by 30) and New Orleans (by 45). But the Thunder have struggled on the road, going 3-6 (SU and ATS) in their past nine away games, a slide which began with a 121-118 overtime loss at Denver on Jan. 20.
The Nuggets rank third in the league in points (105.5 PPG), a number that jumps to 109.1 PPG at Pepsi Center, where they boast a 24-3 SU record (18-9 ATS) this season. Denver has ripped off nine straight home wins -- starting this streak with that OT win versus the Thunder -- but has also scored at least 110 points in three consecutive wins overall, with two of those coming on the road. Despite the Jan. 20 loss, Oklahoma City is 9-3 SU (6-5-1 ATS) in the past 12 meetings with the Nuggets.
Oklahoma City is an excellent shooting team, making 48.4% FG (3rd in NBA), 39.3% threes (2nd in league) and an NBA-leading 83.6% free throws. The Thunder are also solid defensively, allowing just 97.1 PPG (13th in league) on 42.9% FG (2nd in NBA) and 35.1% threes (11th in league). SF Kevin Durant (28.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.6 APG) has posted two triple-doubles in his past four games, tallying 18 points (5-of-8 FG), 11 rebounds and 10 assists in just 27 minutes against the Hornets on Wednesday. He has looked for his shot much more in the season series with Denver though, scoring 28.5 PPG (44% FG) with 6.0 APG, 4.5 RPG and 3.5 SPG.
PG Russell Westbrook (23.1 PPG, 7.9 APG, 5.1 RPG) has also gone off against the Nuggets this season with 34.0 PPG (48% FG), 6.5 APG and 5.0 RPG in the two meetings. He has currently scored at least 20 points in seven straight games, averaging 27.0 PPG on 50% FG (11-of-19 threes) to go along with 6.3 APG, but has also committed 4.6 TOPG during this stretch.
SG Kevin Martin (14.8 PPG) has done a nice job scoring off the bench recently with 13.3 PPG on 50% FG in his past four games. Martin has been sizzling in two meetings with the Nuggets, scoring 19.0 PPG on 64% shooting. PF Serge Ibaka (13.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.0 BPG) has averaged only 10.5 PPG versus Denver, but has 12 rebounds and seven blocks over the two meetings.
Denver's offense plays at a break-neck speed, putting up the most shots in the NBA at 85.3 attempts per game. The Nuggets make 47.5% of these shots (4th in league), but they are a poor three-point shooting team at 33.9%, which is the 4th-worst mark in the NBA. This frantic pace forces the Nuggets to commit the sixth-most turnovers in the NBA (14.7 TOPG), but they also produce 24.2 APG (3rd in league) and apply great ball pressure with 9.0 steals per game (2nd in NBA). Denver also ranks second in the NBA in total rebounds (45.1 RPG) and third in rebounding margin (+3.5 RPG).
The big question mark for Friday's game will be whether or not leading scorer, SF Danilo Gallinari (16.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG) will be able to play after missing two games with a thigh injury. But considering eight other Denver players score at least 9.0 PPG this season, there are plenty of capable scorers if Gallinari is not ready to play.
PG Ty Lawson (16.6 PPG, 7.1 APG) has totaled at least 20 points in eight straight games, chalking up 26.1 PPG (53% FG) with 8.0 APG during this hot streak. But he has been awful against the Thunder this season, scoring just 6.5 PPG on 29% shooting. SG Andre Iguodala (13.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.0 APG) is finally over his neck injury, posting an outstanding 18.7 PPG on 61% FG with 10.0 APG in the past three games.
PF Kenneth Faried (12.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG) has also been hot with 12.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 3.0 SPG in his past three games. SG Wilson Chandler (10.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG) scored a team-high 23 points in Monday's victory, but made just 3-of-10 shots in Wednesday's win in Portland. C Kosta Koufos (8.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG) did some damage against the Blazers though, with 11 points (5-of-7 FG) and eight rebounds.