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Struggling Nets visit Thunder on Thursday night
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 1/2/2014  at  4:05:00 AM
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Tip-off: Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -12, Total: 204.5

Both the Nets and Thunder look to start off the new year with a victory when the two teams meet Thursday night.

The Nets have lost six of their past seven games (SU and ATS) after falling 113-92 at the hands of the Spurs on Tuesday night. The Thunder lost on the same night, dropping a 98-94 home decision to the Trail Blazers, but have still won 12 of their past 14 games (9-5 ATS). These two teams last met in January of 2013 where the Nets shocked the Thunder 110-93 as 10-point road underdogs, shooting 50% from the floor, 53% from three-point range and 86% from the foul line. That snapped a seven-game series win streak for the Thunder, who are 6-3 ATS in this series since moving from Seattle. Both teams have positive betting trends here, as over the past two seasons, Brooklyn is 13-3 ATS in road games after failing to cover the spread in two or more consecutive games. Oklahoma City, however, is 16-6 ATS off an upset loss as a favorite over this same timeframe. Other than Thunder star PG Russell Westbrook (knee), and Nets C Brook Lopez both being out indefinitely, there are no other injuries to report for either team.

Can the Thunder cover the monster spread against the struggling Nets? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 63% ATS (67-39-1) including 70% ATS (41-18-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Zach has a huge 76% ATS mark (16-5-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 59% ATS (27-19-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 68% ATS (15-7) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 54% ATS (25-21) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary and StatFox Scott are both 62% ATS (13-8) in Best Bets since Dec. 1, and since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian is 69% ATS (9-4).

The Nets had a 2013 to forget, and head coach Jason Kidd will need them to turn it around in the new year. Brooklyn does not move the ball well as a team with just 20.4 APG (21st in NBA) and they are even weaker on the boards with only 40.0 RPG (28th in NBA). Their rebounding could really be a huge problem against a Thunder team that is very aggressive on the glass. The team scores just 96.8 PPG (22nd in NBA), while giving up 102.4 PPG (23rd in NBA). PG Deron Williams (12.5 PPG, 7.1 APG) has really struggled over the past five games with a mere 11.8 PPG and 5.6 APG. Without Russell Westbrook for Oklahoma City, Williams will really need to take advantage of a mismatch with his backup, Reggie Jackson. SF Paul Pierce (12.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG), who is averaging 14.7 PPG over the past three games, will have the difficult matchup as he goes against Kevin Durant. Pierce will need to score close to 20 points if the Nets are going to be in this game, and he will need to disrupt Durant, otherwise this game could get very much out of hand. Without C Brook Lopez (20.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG), the Nets will have trouble scoring inside against the dominant interior defensive combo of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. But rookie PF Mason Plumlee (6.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG) was the team's best player in Tuesday's loss in San Antonio, coming off the bench to tally 15 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.

Oklahoma City lost to Portland at home before the new year, but this remains one of the best teams in basketball this season. The Thunder are averaging a league-leading 47.5 RPG, which will really disrupt Brooklyn. They are also scoring a hefty 105.7 PPG (3rd in NBA) while allowing just 97.6 PPG (8th in NBA). PF Serge Ibaka (14.2 PPG on 52% FG) is the anchor for this team defensively with 2.4 BPG and 8.7 RPG. SF Kevin Durant (28.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.5 SPG) has been on a tear since Russell Westbrook went down, scoring at least 33 points while grabbing at least 12 rebounds in each of the past three games. Westbrook's replacement, PG Reggie Jackson (12.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.6 APG), has logged 26.2 MPG over the past five contests for the Thunder, and he has averaged 12.4 PPG, 4.8 APG and 4.4 RPG as the new lead point guard. In the past three games, Jackson has dished out 17 assists and committed only one turnover. SG Jeremy Lamb (10.0 PPG, 40% threes) has stepped up his play off the bench recently for Oklahoma City with 13.7 PPG on 56% FG during a four-game streak of double-digit points.

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