The good news for Oklahoma City is the fact that the underdog is a profitable 9-3 ATS in the last twelve meetings in this series, while the road team is 6-2 ATS in the last right clashes. Now the bad news for Thunder backers – Houston has successfully covered the point spread in thirteen of its past 16 meetings with Oklahoma City. Continue reading to find out which team I designate as my free sports pick in Game 5.
Perhaps the biggest issue facing the Thunder is their inability to produce at both ends of the floor when Russell Westbrook is catching his breath on the bench. In the 39 minutes Westbrook has spent on the bench in this first round series, the Thunder have a point differential of minus-40 and an offensive field goal percentage of 39.0%.
With Westbrook on the floor (153 total minutes), Oklahoma City boasts a plus-3.0 point differential and a field goal percentage of 47.0%. Protecting a 75-68 second half lead in Game 4, Westbrook was given a short rest on the bench.
During that brief stretch, which lasted from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth, the Thunder were outscored 13-4 and their lead became an 81-79 deficit. Earlier in the same game, Oklahoma City was outscored by seven points in 2:19 at the end of the first quarter in which both Westbrook and Victor Oladipo were on the bench.
Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan has made a concerted effort to guard the three-point line, thereby inviting James Harden to drive to the rim. This strategy has worked as the Rockets have attempted seven fewer three-point attempts per game in this series than they did during the regular season.
Here’s the problem – Houston is still scoring 111.7 points per 100 possessions in this series, which is identical to its regular-season mark! However, the technical analysis strongly favors the road underdog in Game 5, which has me leaning with the Thunder as my free sports pick.
Since 1995, NBA road teams averaging 102+ points per game off back-to-back games in which they scored 100+ points per game are 149-99-7 ATS (60.1%) versus an opponent off a win that allows 102+ points per game.
The Rockets are a money-burning 3-9 ATS in their last twelve conference affairs, 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games with one day of rest and 3-10 ATS in their last thirteen games overall. Houston has also failed to cover the spread in five of its last 6 home games and is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games following a win.
Houston is 0-7 ATS as a favorite with limited rest after being installed as a road underdog, provided it allowed 100+ points in each of its previous two games. The Rockets have failed to cover the spread in seven of their last eight games as a favorite and 1-10 ATS at home off a win versus an opponent averaging 45+ rebounds per game.
Finally, since February 8, 2015, the Rockets are just 2-14 ATS at home off a win versus an opponent averaging more than 45 rebounds per game. Take Oklahoma City plus the points as Oskeim Sports Free NBA Playoffs Sports Pick for Tuesday, April 25.
Oskeim Sports’ Free NBA Sports Pick: Oklahoma City (+7.5) (-110)