The most-wagered NBA game of last week was a potential Finals preview as Oklahoma City visited Boston for the only time this regular season, and the result was by far the book's top win of the week.
The Thunder were beaten 108-100 on Friday due largely to 22 second-half points from Boston's Paul Pierce. Boston led by 14 with under 10 minutes left, but the Thunder were able to close within 3 late. However, Kevin Durant missed a potential tying 3-pointer and then Boston pulled away. It was the first time that Boston's Jeff Green had faced his former team; Green came over in the Kendrick Perkins trade two seasons ago from OKC but missed all of last year. Green was clearly motivated Friday with a season-high 17 points off the bench.
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Oklahoma City closed as a 3-point favorite and took more than 86 percent of the action. At -150, the Thunder garnered nearly 90 percent of the lean. Bettors fared well on the total with nearly 60 percent on the over 197.
So while the Thunder were terrific for the book Friday, they were the bettors' biggest win of the week, following the night in Philadelphia. Behind 37 points from Durant, OKC won 116-109 in overtime. The Thunder are a terrific 19-3 after a loss since the start of last season, including 4-0 this year. And they are 5-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season. Oklahoma City closed as a 4.5-point favorite versus the Sixers and took almost 93 percent of the action. At -180, OKC took more than 98 percent.
The biggest moneyline lean of the entire season came in Sunday's San Antonio-Toronto matchup. The Spurs took literally almost every moneyline bet in that game at -265. They escaped with a 111-106 double-overtime victory. The game made some history as it was the first double-OT game in the shot clock era (since 1954) in which each of the first five periods was either tied or decided by a single point.
The top player props wins of the week for bettors were: the Lakers' Dwight Howard over 20.5 points Tuesday versus Brooklyn; the Rockets' James Harden over 22.5 points Friday against the Knicks; and the Thunder's Russell Westbrook over 20.5 points in the Philadelphia game.
One of the big stories of last week was the return of Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love from a broken hand. And Love had quite a season debut, scoring 34 points to go with 14 rebounds in a loss to Denver. The book's top player prop result of the week was on Love two nights later in Portland as he finished under 24.5 points with 24. Love missed a jumper in the final seconds or else it would have been a big win for bettors.
Love's return hasn't helped Minnesota, which has dropped three straight with him and five in a row overall, failing to cover in any of those five after starting the season 6-1 ATS. The Timberwolves are hoping point guard Ricky Rubio can make his season debut in the next few weeks.
Early-Week Live Betting Preview
On Tuesday, the book will offer live betting on Dallas at Philadelphia and Indiana at the L.A. Lakers.
The Mavs have been able to tread water without superstar Dirk Nowitzki having taken the court yet this season. And Dirk isn't likely to make his debut off knee surgery until at least mid-December. Tuesday's game starts a very grueling stretch for Dallas as 16 of its next 23 games are on the road, including eight of the next 10.
The Sixers revealed some more bad news on center Andrew Bynum last week, saying the former Laker is now out indefinitely as he continues to deal with knee problems. Don't look for Bynum until at least mid-January at this point and it's quite possible he never takes the court this season. The good news for Philly is that point guard Jrue Holiday has emerged as an All-Star. In Sunday's win over Phoenix, he was 13 of 21 from the field for a career-high 33 points with 13 assists. Holiday was just the second Sixers player ever to have at least 13 made field goals and 13 assists in a regulation game, joining some guy named Wilt Chamberlain. Holiday is averaging 18.6 points and 9.2 assists this season.
The Pacers also can relate to playing without a star as small forward Danny Granger, the team's leading scorer, who is out until at least February with a left knee issue. Indiana badly misses Granger as it ranks No. 29 in the NBA in scoring (91.2 ppg) and field goal percentage (.413) and has the worst over/under record in the league at 5-9-0. Part of that can be attributed to Indiana's No. 3 scoring defense and that it is the top rebounding team in the league.
On Wednesday, the book offers live betting on Houston at Oklahoma City and Minnesota at the L.A. Clippers. The Rockets-Thunder matchup is the return of James Harden to OKC. Of course he was traded on the eve of the season to Houston when Harden and the Thunder couldn't agree on a contract extension. Harden is tied for fourth in the NBA in scoring at 25.2 ppg. He no doubt will be very motivated to torch his former teammates.
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