Boston Celtics vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Pick
Boston Celtics (2-2, 1-3 ATS) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3, 1-2 ATS)
When: Thursday, October 25th, 2018 – 8:00 pm ET
Where: Chesapeake Bay Arena – Oklahoma City, OK
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OKC -1.5/BOS +1.5
Last Night in the NBA
We were due for a market correction eventually – Vegas has been juicing these total lines like Jose Canseco after the first week explosion of points, and it finally reached a breaking point. The under was a lucrative 7-4 last night, and it’s something to monitor going forward. We might have the opportunity to take advantage of Vegas’ fear of the new NBA pace and cash in. Betting the under in any sport is a yucky affair, but sometimes it’s best to just hold your nose and take the plunge.
Even still, NBA Wednesday didn’t fail to disappoint, as Steph shimmied his way to 51 points, Giannis pulled a Ben Simmons on Ben Simmons himself with his first triple double of the year, and LeBron’s vaunted Lakers took down the juggernaut Suns in their first W of the season. Whoop-de-doo. The Lakers take the floor again tonight, but I’m more interested in the other winless Western Conference contender in the Oklahoma City Thunder. They take on the struggling Celtics in their home arena on a TNT showcase and are favored by 1.5 with the total set at a hefty 212. Strap in, kids.
Well, the Red Sox are up 2-0
The Celtics season has not quite been as smooth as some people expected. Apparently, too much of a good thing is a viable saying when it comes to player personnel, and everyone is still trying to understand their role on the team. It is important to have an established hierarchy on an NBA team, from superstar playmaker down to hard-screen setter/rebounder down to G-League player waving a towel on the end of a bench. Kyrie and Gordon Hayward are the guys getting paid the big bucks to be those elite level players, but this team went to the Conference Finals with a veritable who’s who of deep rotation guys, and now they are desperately trying to cling on to their 15 minutes of fame. Until the Basketball Food Pyramid is fleshed out, the growing pains, particularly on the offensive end, are going to continue.
However, excess talent on an exceptionally coached team is going to be figured out eventually, and their opponent isn’t exactly setting the world on fire at the moment. The Thunder have a tendency to be sloppy at times, and if the Celtics can operate in the half-court and stifle the one-man band Russell Westbrook in transition, this could be an excellent spot for a get-right game on the national stage.
Things have been better in Oklahoma City. Five years ago, the Thunder employed three of the last five MVPs on their roster, and now their starting shooting guard is a guy named Terrence Ferguson who has made 2 of his 15 field goal attempts on the season. Yes, their starting shooting guard. You know who their starting shooting guard could be if ownership had doled out an extra $6 million? James Harden. Ever heard of him? Right now on the alternate reality version of Earth, the Thunder have won the last 4 championships in a row, Markelle Fultz is the best point guard in the league, and LeBron has shaved his head bald. Someone get me to Earth 2, please.
In reality, the Thunder are currently the worst offense in the league. With the absence of Westbrook for 2 of those games, we can go ahead and give them a pass, and let’s assume their season starts tonight. Last season, the Thunder ranked inside the top-10 in both Offensive and Defensive efficiency, and the departure of Carmelo Anthony should open up more opportunity for Jerami Grant and Patrick Patterson to help knock down 3s and defend opposing frontcourts.
All of that sounds great, but you only need to know one thing: Russell Westbrook is on this team. Brad Pitt in his portrayal of Billy Beane in Moneyball summarized what it’s like to be a competitive maniac in one simple quote: “I hate losing. I hate losing more than I even want to win.” Michael Jordan had that trait. Kobe Bryant had that trait. Michael Scott had that trait. Russell Westbrook has that trait. Thunder up, baby.
Quick Match-up Notes
- Boston and OKC rank 29th and 30th, respectively, in Offensive Rating
- Boston ranks 1st in Defensive Rating and 25th in Pace
- Kyrie Irving is 7-3 lifetime vs. Russell Westbrook
There aren’t many things more reliable than an ultra-competitor in a must-win spot. We saw LeBron James get his much-needed victory last night, and he is nowhere near the level of megalomaniac that Russell Westbrook is. Westbrook in a game where his team needs a W is the basketball equivalent of a gang of criminals breaking into John Wick’s house and killing his dog. This game is going to follow the same story arc as the rest of that movie: a slew of bodies laying decimated in the path of Westbrook’s ire. I’m rolling with the Thunder. Go ahead and bet against Russ if you want – it’s your funeral.
Final Score Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 101 – Boston Celtics 95