Thursday NBA Action
March 7, 2013
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OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (44-16) at NEW YORK KNICKS (37-21)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oklahoma City -8 & 206.5
The Knicks could be missing star Carmelo Anthony on Thursday night when the Thunder visit Madison Square Garden in a matchup of two red-hot teams.
Oklahoma City is 5-1 (SU and ATS) in its past six games, including a 122-105 dismantling of the Lakers on Tuesday night. New York is also 5-1 SU in its past six contests, coming off road wins in Cleveland on Monday and at Detroit on Wednesday despite Anthony missing the Pistons game with a knee injury. He's questionable for Thursday's action. Although the Thunder won their most recent road game Sunday against the Clippers, they are just 4-7 (SU and ATS) in their past 11 road games. But the Knicks are on a five-game ATS losing skid at home, losing outright to the Clippers, Raptors and Heat during this slide. New York has had the upper hand in this series though, especially at home where it is 9-4 SU (10-3 ATS) against Oklahoma City since 1998.
Oklahoma City is a tremendous offensive team with 107.0 PPG (2nd in NBA), making 48.3% of its shots (3rd in league), including 39.0% threes (2nd in NBA). The Thunder are also strong defensively, allowing just 97.5 PPG on 42.9% FG and 35.2% threes. SF Kevin Durant (28.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.6 APG) has shined at Madison Square Garden in his four trips to Manhattan, averaging a hefty 28.8 PPG on 45.2% FG. He's also pumped in 28.7 PPG and 10.7 RPG in three March games, but hasn't shot particularly well (41.8% FG, 5-of-15 threes). PG Russell Westbrook (23.6 PPG, 7.8 APG, 5.3 RPG) has scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games, averaging 29.3 PPG on 51% FG (13-of-27 threes) to go along with 6.4 APG. He lit up the Lakers for 37 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Tuesday's win and has 23.0 PPG (50% FG), 6.9 APG and 6.6 RPG in seven career games against New York. SG Kevin Martin (14.5 PPG) has also been able to boost his scoring average when playing the Knicks, averaging 20.5 PPG on 51% FG and 41% threes, including 25.7 PPG in the past three meetings. But he'll have to bust out of his shooting funk so far in March where he has just 8.0 PPG on 7-of-29 FG (24%). PF Serge Ibaka (13.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.93 BPG) has provided quite a scoring punch in his past five games with 16.2 PPG on 66% FG, but his offense has been missing against the Knicks in his career with a mere 5.8 PPG on 12-of-32 shooting (37.5% FG) in five meetings.
New York has a strong offense (99.9 PPG, 2nd in Eastern Conference), but has a tendency to force shots with a 44.2% FG clip (17th in NBA). However, the Knicks make a league-high 10.8 threes per game, which always keeps them close in ball games. SF Carmelo Anthony (28.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG) is a huge part of the scoring though, as his team has averaged a paltry 81.5 PPG in the past two games without him. New York had just 87 points on 41% FG at Detroit on Wednesday, but PG Raymond Felton (14.8 PPG, 5.9 APG) had no problem scoring with 26 points on 10-of-15 FG, including 4-of-5 threes. This was a quite an improvement from his previous two games when he combined for 17 points on 6-of-17 FG (1-of-5 threes). He has 13.3 PPG and 6.4 APG in 15 career games versus the Thunder. PF Amar'e Stoudemire (14.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG) also had a huge game off the bench in Wednesday's win over the Pistons, scoring 22 points (8-of-12 FG) with nine rebounds (six offensive) and a +12 rating. He's averaging 17.3 PPG on a ridiculous 73% FG (43-of-59) in his past six games despite playing just 24.8 MPG. SG J.R. Smith (16.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG) has been the cold one on this team with a horrible 32.9% FG clip (11-of-40 threes) in four March games. And PG Jason Kidd (7.0 PPG, 3.6 APG) has shot poorly all season (38.5% FG), including 34% FG over his past six contests.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (44-19) at DENVER NUGGETS (40-22)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Denver -4 & 215
The Clippers have been playing great basketball lately, especially on the road, but Thursday will present quite a challenge when they visit the Pepsi Center in Denver.
L.A. has won five straight road games (SU and ATS), but the Nuggets have prevailed in 11 straight contests at home, outscoring these visitors by an average score of 113 to 101. This matchup figures to be high-scoring, which actually favors both of these clubs, as Los Angeles is 11-2 ATS (85%) on the road since the start of last season when the total is greater than or equal to 200 points, and Denver is 13-1 ATS (93%) when the total is set at 210+ points this season. The Clips are 2-10 SU in their past 12 trips to Denver, including a 92-78 loss on New Year's Day which ended L.A.'s franchise-high, 17-game winning streak. However, Los Angeles is 8-3 ATS against the Nuggets over the past three calendar years, which includes a 5-1 ATS mark in games played in Denver.
The Clippers are a team without a real weakness, averaging 100.8 PPG (9th in league), and allowing just 94.1 PPG (4th in NBA) this season. They love to share the basketball with 23.5 APG (4th in league), and lead the NBA with 9.9 steals per game. And despite beating Denver at home on Wednesday, this team has played extremely well with no rest, going 10-5 SU, including 3-0 on the road one day after playing at home. PG Chris Paul (16.4 PPG, 9.5 APG) has averaged 20.0 PPG and 10.0 APG in his past four games, but hasn't had a great series with Denver, scoring just 12.0 PPG with 7.0 APG. PF Blake Griffin (18.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG) has also been subpar in two meetings with the Nuggets this season with 12.5 PPG (43.5% FG) and 7.5 RPG. However, Griffin enters this game playing outstanding basketball with 20.2 PPG (66% FG) and 10.4 RPG over his past five games. SG Jamal Crawford (17.2 PPG) has also been sizzling recently with 23.0 PPG on 59% FG and 11-of-18 threes over the past four games, scoring at least 20 points in all four contests. His 22 points were a big reason L.A. beat Denver on Christmas Day, but Crawford's 2-of-11 shooting in Denver on New Year's Day was a big reason the Clips scored just 78 points in that loss. C DeAndre Jordan (8.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG) tallied a double-double (11 pts, 11 reb) in that loss to the Nuggets, but has made just 3-of-12 free throws in this series so far. Jordan had an efficient 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of Wednesday's win over the Bucks.
Denver's offense loves to get up-and-down the court, attempting the league's second-most shots (85.4 FGA per game) and scoring the third-most points (105.7 PPG). This rapid pace also has the Nuggets committing the sixth-most turnovers in the NBA (14.7 TOPG), but they also distribute 24.4 APG (3rd in league) and are active defensively with 9.1 SPG (2nd in NBA). Denver also knows how to flex its muscles on the glass, ripping down 45.0 RPG this season (2nd in NBA). After battling a thigh injury, SF Danilo Gallinari (16.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG) finally looked healthy in Tuesday's win at Sacramento with 23 points on 7-of-11 FG and 5-of-6 threes. That should give him confidence on Thursday, but he's made just 28% of his shots for 12.0 PPG versus the Clippers this season. PG Ty Lawson (16.7 PPG, 7.1 APG) has been on a scoring tear in his past 11 games with 23.8 PPG (on 51% FG) and 7.8 APG. He hasn't been as effective with Chris Paul guarding him this season though, averaging just 15.0 PPG on 45.5% FG and 5.0 APG in the two meetings. SG Andre Iguodala (13.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.0 APG) has averaged 10.5 PPG and 5.0 APG in these two meetings, and enters this game with a well-rounded 13.0 PPG, 7.6 APG and 5.6 RPG in his past five games. SF Kenneth Faried (12.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG) is coming off a huge game on Tuesday with 19 points, 12 rebounds and a +20 rating in just 21 minutes of action. He's also averaged a double-double against the Clippers this season with 10.0 PPG and 10.0 APG. Backup PG Andre Miller (9.1 PPG, 5.9 APG) also burned the Kings Tuesday for 16 points on 8-of-11 FG plus seven assists. Miller has 12.0 PPG and 9.0 APG in two games versus L.A. this season.
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