IT'S back to business tonight for the NBA tonight after the hiatus of All Star break. And with six weeks left of the regular season, it’s the countdown to a longer holiday for some and the gear-up for the playoffs for those with serious intent.
It is now or never to build some momentum for the Oklahoma City Thunder who rank among the most curious disappointments so far but retain the potential for a deep run come early-summer.
33-26 heading into their visit to the woeful Sacramento Kings, the Thunder came into All Star on the back of losing six out of nine but are still clinging onto fifth spot in the Western Conference.
No one was quite sure what OKC expected when they added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last summer to be Russell Westbrook’s new running mates. After a sticky start, George has shown signs of his old Indiana self, averaging 22.5 points and a league-best 2.2 steals.
Perhaps more predictably, Anthony has been a defensive black hole amid a group still allowing only 103.2 per contest – sixth in the league. And during six games in early February, he put up only 12.7 points per night – over four ppg below career-low scoring marks.
But the Thunder are capable of making a charge and are worth a punt of 2.25 to overtake Minnesota for the Northwest Division crown. They won eight straight last month including a 95-88 defeat of the Kings. Sacto – now 18-39 – are firmly in a race to the bottom from here on and little can be expected of them.
If Oklahoma City wants a statement of intent, now is the time to start. They are 2.45 to win by -10.5 or more. And even with Anthony, stopping opponents must be their calling card if they are to live up to the previous hype.
- Under 208.5 total points in Sacramento-Oklahoma City
- (2.40, Unibet)