Last Updated: 2018-02-06
On a team with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony, could it be that Andre Roberson was the glue holding it all together? The Oklahoma City Thunder battle the Golden State Warriors in the second of two games for a national TV audience on TNT. We’ve got a busy eight-game card in the Association tonight, but all eyes, at least those that aren’t sleep-deprived from the Super Bowl, will be on this one. Don’t sleep on the Boston vs. Toronto tilt that should have grabbed the first time slot on TNT, but that will be taken by Washington and Philadelphia.
The Warriors were a 10.5-point favorite when BetOnline posted the first set of overnights, but adjusted to -10 with a couple of initial hits. The rest of the market was content to open on that nice, round number.
Oklahoma City only has one injury, but it appears to be a very big one. Swingman Andre Roberson is out for the season and it has had a wide-ranging impact on the Thunder. In the five games Roberson has missed, the team is 1-4 and has a -11.3 net rating when the starting five is on the floor, per ESPN’s Royce Young. Billy Donovan may be shuffling the starting lineup as he looks for a combination that works.
Golden State is pretty healthy overall. The only thing bruised for Golden State right now is ego. The Warriors lost for the first time in 37 games with a lead after three quarters in the loss to Denver on Saturday night. Jordan Bell is expected to miss a little more time with his ankle injury and David West should be back with the team after attending the funeral of Rasual Butler.
We usually see Golden State lines at home start around 12 or 13 and go up from there, but Oklahoma City’s star power is enough to keep this one to 10. If this line holds or goes down, it will mirror the Warriors’ closing line against Denver at home on January 8. They won that game 124-114. Oklahoma City’s four straight losses have all come in favorite roles, so it will be interesting to see if the market wants to take the double digits here. Early action hasn’t been enough to swing the spread one way or another.
The total has seen a little bit of activity. The opener of 229 is now up to 230 market-wide, even though the first-half total has ticked down a tad. BetOnline posted 227.5 with its overnight opener, but it was Bookmaker that came 229. Pinnacle actually opened 230.5 and dropped back down to 230. Of the five games with overnights, this one has seen the least activity.
What’s At Stake?
It always means a little more for Oklahoma City when Kevin Durant is involved. Durant left OKC to join Golden State and won an NBA title. He and Russell Westbrook have had some good regular season battles since then. But, rather than get caught up in all the old emotions and the extraneous stuff, the Thunder just need a win. Minnesota is now three games clear in the Northwest Division and Oklahoma City has dropped four straight after winning eight in a row. The streaky nature of the NBA continues. Denver and Portland are only a game in back of Oklahoma City and Utah has quietly rattled off six in a row to move towards that cut line in the Western Conference. A lot can happen over the last two months of the regular season, but the chances of home court advantage in the first round are dwindling.
Golden State doesn’t really have a ton to play for in any game the rest of the way. The Warriors are still two games ahead of the Rockets for the top seed in the West. Returning home, where the Warriors most recently lost 125-106 to the Clippers, is a big deal for this team because of the recent schedule, which we’ll talk about in a second. Golden State leads the Pacific by 13.5 games already, but the seeds are all that matter for them at this point.
An urgent OKC bunch heads into Oakland in about as decent of a spot as you can get in the NBA. They’re not playing well, which may be more of a detriment than anything else. This is a fourth game in six nights, but the last two have been at the friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena. A day off in Los Angeles leading into Thursday’s game against the Lakers could be tricky, but has no bearing on the spot for this game.
Golden State was “mentally fried” per head coach Steve Kerr on that last road trip. The Warriors played Utah, Sacramento, and Denver, with a back-to-back and an early-morning arrival in the Mile High City. Hence the fourth quarter collapse. Two days off to absorb the mental blows should help Golden State, but this is a team that hasn’t been blowing out opponents in the manner that we’re accustomed to in a while. Keep in mind that this is a Warriors bunch that has played a ton of basketball over the last three years with Finals appearances. There is only so much gas in the tank. A four-game homestand provides opportunities for the Warriors to get right.
Oklahoma City is one of three teams in the top 10 in both Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating. The others are Golden State and Houston, surprise, surprise. Unfortunately, the loss of Andre Roberson has sidelined the team’s best defender. It is having an impact on both ends of the floor for the starting five. It seems like Terrance Ferguson will be taken out of the starting lineup and Billy Donovan will be trying to figure some things out on the fly. The Thunder do a lot of little things well. They are the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA and have forced the highest number of turnovers. If there is a flaw with Golden State, it is that they turn the ball over a lot. Only Philadelphia turns it over on a higher percentage of possessions.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma City has to try to slow down a Golden State offense that narrowly ranks second in Offensive Rating. Only Houston is better, with a 115 to 114.9 edge in that department. Golden State’s quick pace may be a deciding factor in this game. Oklahoma City is worse defensively on every single possession without Roberson and those small differences gradually add up to bigger ones over a large sample size of possessions. Basically, this game comes down to how well Oklahoma City can do on the offensive end because they will give up points. Golden State ranks 10th in Defensive Rating, so they aren’t as good as they have been in recent seasons. That may be a sign of some overall fatigue from playing so many games or a sign of disengagement with this regular season after setting the record last year.
When these two teams met back in November, the total was 221.5 and Oklahoma City rolled by 17 in a 108-91 win as a five-point underdog. Flip home court advantage and this line looks a point or two light to me, especially with the Thunder’s defensive and offensive woes without Roberson. Golden State had a day off and a good day of practice on Monday. Keep in mind that teams often don’t practice during tough schedule stretches. Oklahoma City hasn’t had a ton of time to work some new things in with Roberson on the shelf and they may just be holding on for dear life until the All-Star Break gives Billy Donovan some time to adjust.
I’d be looking to lay it with Golden State tonight. Oklahoma City certainly has some scoring prowess, but I’m not sure how well they do in terms of slowing down the Warriors. Golden State is falling into the old mold of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who sleepwalked through unexciting opponents and got up for big games. This is a big game. Friday’s game against Sacramento became a big game after losing by 30 the night before.
I think Golden State starts fast and quick, so I’d also be looking for them in the first quarter, first half, and full game. Worst-case scenario, I think you go 2-1 here. In the four consecutive losses for OKC, they’ve been outscored 30-25 by Washington, 40-33 by Denver, and 25-22 by Los Angeles. They outscored New Orleans 32-22, but lost every subsequent quarter and the game by 14.
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