OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (44-16)
at NEW YORK KNICKS (37-21)
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -7.5, Total: 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.
Can the Thunder cover the hefty spread on the road? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. All four experts have been on fire in NBA Best Bets. StatFox Gary is 89% ATS (8-1) in March and 80% ATS (16-4) since Feb. 20, StatFox Scott is 67% ATS (32-16) since Feb. 3, StatFox Brian 80% ATS in March (8-2), including a perfect 5-0 ATS in past three days and StatFox Dave is 67% ATS (4-2) in the past three days. Since February began, the experts are a collective 59.2% ATS (116-80), including 64% ATS (23-13) in March. Scott is now 57% ATS (102-77-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (79-68-4) and Brian is 52% ATS (98-91-3). For NBA Totals, Scott is catching fire with a 9-4-1 (69.2%) mark since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 57% (85-65-1) in Totals.
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.