Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:06 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

Betting road favorites in the NBA can be a dicey situation but they’ve been coming through lately for bettors. Since Sunday, visitors laying points have gone 8-1 straight up and 7-2 against the spread and that includes a 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS mark last night with Minnesota’s 98-97 loss at Brooklyn on Wednesday being the lone defeat during this span. I mention those trends because both matchups on Thursday will likely have the visitors laying points.

Let’s break down the games.

Golden State (30-8 SU, 17-21 ATS) at Houston (27-9 SU, 17-18-1 ATS)

These teams met on opening night (Oct. 17) from the Bay Area and Houston rallied for a 122-121 road win over Golden State as a healthy 9 ½-point underdog. The Rockets outscored the Warriors 34-20 in the fourth quarter while pulling off the upset. Houston point guard James Harden led all scorers with 27 points and unfortunately he won’t be available for the rematch.

The All-Star injured his hamstring in this past Sunday’s 148-142 double-overtime victory over the Lakers and is expected to miss at least two weeks.

Even with Harden healthy, the Rockets had dropped five straight games before the win over Los Angeles. They failed to cover against the Lakers and they’ve gone 0-6 ATS during this rough patch. Prior to this stretch, Houston had won 14 in a row and it owned the best record in the NBA at 25-4.

Last night, the Rockets played their first game without Harden and they blasted Orlando 116-98 as 7 ½-point road favorites. Newly acquired Gerald Green led the way with 27 points as four Houston players topped double figures in scoring and Chris Paul carved out 13 assists in the win.

Golden State also played last night and it captured a 125-122 win at Dallas but failed to cover as an eight-point favorite. The Warriors took the lead on late 3-pointer from Stephen Curry with three seconds left. He finished with 32 points and has now scored 70 points in his first two game since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him 11 games. The Warriors got by fine without the All-Star, posting a 9-2 record and surprisingly both losses came at home.

On the road, Golden State is the best in the NBA with a 15-3 record. From a betting perspective, they haven’t been that kind to players with an 8-10 ATS mark.

For Thursday’s matchup, [...] opened Golden State as a three-point road favorite over Houston but the number was quickly pushed up to 4 and the total also jumped from an opener of 226 to 228.

The absence of Harden certainly makes the Warriors a more attractive look plus Golden State has had a lot of success at Houston, going 8-2 both SU and ATS in their last 10 trips to the Toyota Center. Houston has only averaged 100.8 PPG during this stretch and total bettors should note that the ‘under’ has gone 7-3 in those games.

Fatigue could certainly play a factor with both teams playing on Wednesday but that edge leans to the Warriors as well. Golden State has played on zero days rest seven times this season and its gone 5-2 in those games but only managed to produce a 3-4 ATS mark. Make a note that the shortest spread in those games was six points. Meanwhile, Houston has struggled in back-to-back spots this season, going 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS. The offense (106 PPG) hasn’t been as explosive in these situations and that’s contributed to a 4-1 ‘under’ record.

From a totals perspective, Golden State (19-19) has seen its results break even so far this season while Houston has practically (18-7-1) done the same but the Rockets have seen the ‘over’ go 12-7 at home.

The Warriors might not have Omri Casspi (back) and Andre Iguodala (back) available as both are listed as ‘questionable’ while the Rockets backup big man Nene Hilario (knee) is ‘doubtful’ to play.

Tip-off is slated for 8:05 p.m. ET with TNT providing national coverage.

Oklahoma City (21-17 SU, 14-23-1 ATS) at L.A. Clippers (17-19 SU, 20-16 ATS)

The second-half of the TNT (10:30 p.m. ET) double-header is shaping up to be a quality matchup between a pair of surging teams that are starting to figure themselves out.

After an 8-12 start through the first quarter of the season, the Thunder posted a 12-5 record in December and the club began January with a dominating 133-96 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers last night. The Thunder shot 60 percent from the field and unknown rookie Terrance Ferguson led the way with a career-high 24 points as they covered as a 5 ½-point road underdog.

Last night’s win at Los Angeles was certainly a little surprising considering OKC’s form as a visitor. The Thunder have been the worst team to bet on the road this season (5-12 ATS) and what’s crazy is that they’ve been favored in 16 of those games. They’re 5-11 SU and 4-12 ATS in those spots and the five wins came against the Pacers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Bucks and last night’s win over the Lakers.

Playing a back-to-back game in the same venue probably doesn’t factor as much but make a note that Oklahoma City owns a pedestrian 3-3 record both SU and ATS when playing on no rest. The point-spread hasn’t mattered in any of the games and two of the three wins on no rest for the Thunder did come on the road.

It’s fair to say that the point-spread probably won’t matter tonight with the line being so short. Oklahoma City opened as a one-point road favorite at [...] and was adjusted to 2 but there are a couple other outfits that are dealing 1 and pick ‘em.

The Clippers will be a step up in class for OKC and they’re playing the best basketball of the season right now. Los Angeles has been hampered by a ton of unfortunate injuries this season but you could start to see the club coming together in December with an 8-7 record. More importantly for our purposes, they’ve gone 11-4 ATS in the final month.

Los Angeles has captured wins in six of its last seven games and it brings a four-game winning streak into this matchup. All-Star Blake Griffin returned to the club last Friday and has scored 20-plus points in all three of the games. The offense is averaging 115.7 points per game in the last seven games and that’s helped the ‘over’ go 5-2.  Veteran Lou Williams is having another great season off the bench and he’s averaging 26.6 PPG in his last 10 games and a lot his damage is surprisingly coming from the free throw line.

While I don’t want to dismiss what the Clippers have done lately, you have to look at the opponents they faced. They did capture an impressive win at Houston, which was probably their signature victory of the season so far. However, the other five wins came against teams below .500. Against losing clubs, Los Angeles has gone 13-7 this season while they’ve struggled with a 4-12 record versus winning teams.

These teams met once already this season and Oklahoma City captured a 120-111 win on Nov. 10 as a 5 ½-point home favorite. Even though we’ve got a handful of new faces on both clubs it should be noted that the Thunder have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games at the Staples Center against the Clippers and they’ve had trouble scoring, which has resulted in a 7-3 ‘under’ mark during this span. 

The Thunder have been an ‘under’ team (22-16) this season and that record is directly attributed to its defense. Last season they allowed 106.2 PPG and that number has dropped to 100.4 PPG, which is the third ranked scoring defense in the league and the addition of Paul George has helped that cause. What may come as a surprise, George and teammate Russell Westbrook are first and second in the league in steals, collecting 2.45 and 2.00 rips a game.

Playing the due factor is never a great handicap but there were a ton of ‘over’ winners last night (8-4) in the NBA with seven teams scoring 120-plus points. I like to believe all things balance out in the end and wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these games get ugly tonight.

Oklahoma City is expected to be without Andre Roberson (knee) for tonight’s matchup while Clippers point guard Austin Rivers (Achilles) is ‘questionable.’

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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