Oklahoma City Thunder (-8, 212 o/u) at Denver Nuggets
The Oklahoma City Thunder (30-12, 10-7 Away) are easily laying claim to the crown of “third-best team in the West.” But if they’re holding out hope to catch the Warriors and the Spurs, then they can’t afford to drop games like tonight’s tilt against the Denver Nuggets (16-25, 8-12 Home) at the Pepsi Center (9:00 PM Eastern).
The Thunder have won four in a row and six of the last seven, only losing to the Portland in that span. Wins over the Grizzlies, Lakers, Heat, and Timberwolves (twice) have padded OKC’s lead at the top of the Northwest Division. Billy Donovan’s team is now 11.5 games ahead of the second-place Jazz.
The Thunder put in a solid defensive effort on Sunday, holding to 41.7-percent from the field in a 99-74 win. Kevin Durant led the way on offense with 24 points while Serge Ibaka chipped in 19.
“It was probably the most complete game we’ve played defensively,” Donovan told the Associated Press. “We used our length and size and from a sustainability standpoint, we sustained for a long period of time, which was great to see.”
Oklahoma City averages a prolific 108.5 points per game (second in the NBA) while allowing a shade over 100. Durant has been at his best of late and was named the Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 26 points and 8.3 rebounds.
The Nuggets are currently fourth in the Northwest but have been coming on of late. The team has won three of the last four games, including a major upset against the best team in the league, the Golden State Warriors (112-110).
They dropped a game to the Heat, thereafter (98-95), but then bounced back on Sunday with a 129-126 win over the Pacers, led by 23 points by Danilo Gallinari. The 129-point outburst came out of nowhere for the Nuggets, who average just 99.3 PPG.
“We scored 75 points in the second half, which is crazy,” coach Michael Malone told the AP.
Denver is 12-5 SU in its last 17 games at home against Oklahoma City. However, the Nuggets are 1-5-1 against the number in their last seven, overall, versus the Thunder. While the game should be competative, with the possibility of going either way, one thing is for certain, there will be points. The total has gone OVER four of the last five times these teams have met.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Kevin Durant) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)