Welcome to the inaugural edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one game per night that I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Warriors -12.5
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Warriors -12.5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Warriors -12
Over/Under Total: 223.5
The Thunder proved a tough out for the Warriors last season, splitting the season series 2-2. OKC took the first two games in surprisingly comfortable fashion. They notched 108-91 and 125-105 victories. Golden State did extract a measure of revenge with a 32-point walloping of the Thunder at home in February. They also squeezed out a four-point victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena to close out the regular-season series.
All this said, last year’s success was a bit of an outlier for the Thunder. They had dropped seven straight to the reigning NBA champs over the prior pair of campaigns.
The key to Tuesday’s matchup is injuries. All of them are on the visitors’ side. It has now been officially confirmed that OKC will be without Russell Westbrook (knee) for the game. Plus, Steven Adams, who’d be set for a larger role with Westbrook out of action, is also questionable with lower back stiffness. Even if the big man plays, he could well be at less than 100 percent. Given his low-post responsibilities, the injury could present significant limitations to Adams’ ability to protect the rim and bang the boards.
Now, Dennis Schröder is certainly an above-average stand-in for Westbrook. However, no one approaches the latter’s level when he’s at full health. Additionally, the German’s move to the starting lineup Tuesday makes an already suspect bench even less potent. Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel marks a significant downgrade at center if forced to step in for Adams.
Two of the Warriors’ Big Three consistently enjoyed success against the Thunder last season. The one player who didn’t, Klay Thompson (36.7 percent shooting), will have an easier path to production with defensive stalwart Andre Roberson still not ready to suit up after last season’s knee surgery.
Meanwhile, Stephen Curry is poised for success in Tuesday’s game. He averaged an impressive 28.5 points (on 54.5 percent shooting), 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 steal in two meetings against the Hawks last season while often facing off against Schröder.
For his part, Kevin Durant had little trouble against his former squad. He touched them up for 29.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals across 32.8 minutes across four games.
By the Numbers: The Thunder were an NBA-worst 21-37 (36.2 percent) against the spread in Western Conference matchups in the 2017-18 season. OKC was also 19-24 against the number on the road last season, including 7-7 against the number as a road underdog.
The Final Word: The Warriors’ numbers against the spread as home favorites last season actually aren’t very favorable. But this is a Thunder team missing its most important piece. The defending champs should also have an extra dose of adrenaline after receiving their championship rings and unfurling their sixth championship banner in pregame ceremonies. If both teams were at full strength, this spread might come off a bit inflated. Yet given the circumstances, this shapes up as a contest with which the Warriors run away in the second half.
The Pick: Warriors -12.5, Warriors moneyline (-850)