NBA Betting Picks: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Betting Picks:  Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

The 1 vs. 8 matchup in the Western Conference looks a bit more competitive than its Eastern Conference counterpart as the Houston Rockets take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then again, the entire Western Conference appears more competitive than the East. Houston finished in the #8 seed in the West with a record of 45-37 which is an identical record to the Chicago Bulls who are the #5 seed in the East. The Milwaukee Bucks are the #8 seed in the East but their record would have left them mired in 12th place in the West on the outside looking in to playoff action.

Oklahoma City is a -10 point favorite in this game but they face many of the same issues as the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. Most specifically, the fact that this game–and this series–is a brutal ‘lookahead spot’ for them. They’ve got more important goals in this playoff season and obviously they’re going to have trouble bringing the intensity against a first round opponent that provides little in the way of intrinsic motivation. In fact, Houston could be the more motivated of the two sides–their best player is James Hardin, who was a crucial component of the Thunder playoff run last season. Hardin has found a new home in Houston but there’s at least a little rancor on how the split between the two sides went down.

Working in OKC’s favor is the fact that Houston isn’t much of a road team. In head to head play the Thunder have had little trouble with the Rockets on their home floor, winning and covering the last five meetings here. Ultimately, however, the best bet may be on the total which is a sky high 213.5. Granted, much of this is based on public perception of the Rockets as an ‘Over’ team (in reality they finished the regular season with a dead even split of 41 OV and 41 UN) but pushing the tempo and particularly attacking from 3 point range could be their best chance to stay competitive in this game and in this series. Oklahoma City can also play this way and with no real reason to clamp down on the defensive end so early in the playoffs will be happy to do so. Four of the last five games between the teams in Oklahoma City have gone ‘Over’ and we expect this one to as well.