Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets - 12/29/13
Houston Rockets (20-11) at Oklahoma City Thunder (24-5)
NBA Basketball: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm (Chesapeake Energy Arena)
The Line: Oklahoma City Thunder -4.5 -- Over/Under: 207 See the Latest Odds
James Harden returns to Oklahoma City as the Houston Rockets collide with Kevin Durant and the Thunder tonight.
Head to head, the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings and the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings. The Thunder are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Southwest. The Rockets on the other hand are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games playing on 0 days rest and 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall, but just 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. win.
I think the Oklahoma City Thunder will be just fine without Russell Westbrook, who is expected to be out until the middle of February after undergoing knee surgery on his right knee for the third time since April. The Thunder managed to register an 89-85 win in Charlotte in his first game on the sidelines, but it wasn't a pretty one, especially for his replacement Reggie Jackson. The point guard struggled in his first start, hitting just four of his 19 field goal attempts and finished on 10 points in 30 minutes of action. As always, Kevin Durant was their to bail them out with 34 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
The Houston Rockets managed to pick up their third straight victory on Saturday night, holding off the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 107-98. This current winning streak started on Christmas night with their impressive 111-98 win in San Antonio and it a welcomed site after splitting wins and losses in their prior seven contests. Houston has been their usual high scoring selfs, averaging 106 points during their winning streak while holding opponents to just 96 per game.
I expect a much better game out of Reggie Jackson tonight and think he will be a more than capable fill in, but the main downside to all of this means that the Thunder lose their main scoring punch off the bench. Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones need to pickup the slack now and I'm just not sure they are capable of doing it. On the other hand, you know James Harden is going to want a good performance tonight and that win in San Antonio on Christmas was super impressive. I think the Rockets can keep this close and potentially win tonight..
Dan's Pick: Houston +4.5
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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports