Milwaukee Bucks at Oklahoma City Thunder (-10, 199.5 o/u)
Already it’s a tale of two seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-13, 4-5 home). With its two star players – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook – injured, the team got off to a slow start, as predicted.
Now that both Durant and Westbrook are back, the squad is flying high. The Thunder have won four of their last five and are averaging 101.0 PPG and shooting 46.0 percent from the field during their last handful of games. That is in contrast to their 89.6 PPG average and 41.6 shooting percentage without Durant and Westbrook.
While Durant is averaging 21.7 PPG and Westbrook is putting up 25.5 PPG, 7.3 AGP, and 7.3 RPG since their returns, arguably the play of Serge Ibaka has had the biggest impact of late for OKC. In the Thunder’s 96-94 win at Detroit on Sunday, the forward/center provided key secondary scoring with 13 points and was a vacuum on the glass with 13 rebounds.
Durant said, “I thought Serge was tremendous. He was chasing down all of those rebounds and scoring when we were kicking them out to him. We had possessions where we had three great shots and three offensive rebounds. We’re doing a good job of rebounding the ball.”
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks was impressed with the team’s defensive effort Sunday, as Oklahoma City kept the Pistons to only 39 points in the second half.
“We’re pleased with the way we played. Defensively in the second half is what we need to do for the entire game,” said Brooks.
Tonight, the Thunder host the surprising Milwaukee Bucks (11-11, 5-7 away) who have quickly bought into new head coach Jason Kidd’s system. However, after holding teams to just over 97 PPG early in the season, the Bucks have struggled of late, giving up 109 PPG over their last five.
The defense hit a new low on Sunday as Milwaukee lost 125-102 at Dallas. “When you don’t put any energy and effort into it, guys are going to get wide-open shots and knock them down,” Kidd said. “They did that.”
When it comes to betting tonight’s game, considering the tough Thunder defense, take the under (199.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) “Kevin Durant” [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)