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SURGING THUNDER HOST REELING WARRIORS TUESDAY
Fri, 29 Apr 2011 02:44 PM EDT

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (32-42)

at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (48-24)

Tip-off: Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Oklahoma City -10, Total: 215

Oklahoma City is on a roll, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t continue when it hosts Golden State on Tuesday night.

The Thunder are 12-2 SU and 7-4-1 ATS in March. And the scary part is that they’ve done it with superstar Kevin Durant playing some of his worst ball of the season. Durant hasn’t exactly been a disaster, but this month he’s averaging 24.8 PPG on 44.8% shooting, both well below his season averages (27.7 and 46.2%). He’s struggled badly over his past four games, shooting just 36.2% from the field. While a 6-for-21 day on March 20 cost them in a stunning home loss to the Raptors, the Thunder were able to come away with three SU wins, as well as a 1-1-1 ATS record, in their three games last week. Basketball lines.

If history is any lesson, a home date with the Warriors will do Durant some good. Since moving to Oklahoma City from Seattle, Durant and the Thunder have hosted the Warriors five times. In those games, Durant has averaged 33.4 PPG on 53.8% shooting. And while his shooting from the field has been off recently, Durant still frequently gets to the line and makes his freebies (7.6 FT attempts per game this month, making 92.5%). He’s also been just fine from behind the arc, hitting 44.6% of his threes during March.

Durant’s gotten more than enough help from him friends of late. Despite their star’s relative shooting slump, the Thunder are averaging 105.6 PPG in March. Point guard Russell Westbrook has evolved into a true star, averaging 23.0 PPG on 48.1% shooting and 8.0 APG this month. And James Harden is now one of the league’s elite sixth men, averaging 16.6 PPG on 47.8% shooting off the bench in March. And, like most of the other teams who have emerged as the league’s elite in recent weeks, the Thunder are playing outstanding defense. They’re allowing just 95.0 PPG in March after allowing 102.2 PPG before this month. Since newly-acquired big man Kendrick Perkins made his OKC debut on March 14, the Thunder are allowing just 91.1 PPG as Perk has solidified their interior defense.

The Warriors have been playing some impressive ball themselves of late, scoring back-to-back, double-digit victories (by 38 over the Raptors on Friday, and by 10 over the Wizards on Sunday). But not only were those wins over two of the league’s weaker sisters, they were also both at home. And Golden State is a much different team when they get out of Oakland. The most obvious difference is its shooting. At home, the Warriors shoot 48% from the field, 41% from three and score 106.4 PPG. On the road, those numbers fall to 45%, 37% and 100.3 PPG. Look no further than their best player, Monta Ellis, who hits 48% of his shots from the field and 41.0% of his threes for 27.8 PPG at home, but just 42% and 29% for 20.8 PPG away. Basketball betting lines.

Golden State is 23-14 SU and 19-18 ATS at home, but just 9-28 SU and 17-20 ATS on the road on this season. It’s gotten worse of late, as the Warriors dropped six straight road games, SU and ATS. They were outscored by an average of 112.3-97.8 in those losses. Golden State has been double-digit underdogs six times this season, and it is 1-5 ATS in those games.

Of course, complicating matters is that the Thunder have been double-digit favorites four times in the last 11 days, and have gone just 1-2-1 ATS in those games. Still, I don’t trust the Warriors to be competitive on the road Tuesday night. My pick is Oklahoma City. The FoxSheets have a few trends working in OKC’s favor, including:

Play Against – Underdogs (GOLDEN STATE) – off a home win scoring 110 or more points, with a winning percentage of between 40-49% on the season. (133-81 since 1996, 62.1%, +43.9 units. Rating = 2*).

And considering Golden State’s shooting woes on the road, combined with the Thunder’s strong defense, I’m also picking the Under in this one. It helps to have a five-star trend from the FoxSheets to back that up:

GOLDEN STATE is 14-1 UNDER (93.3%, +12.9 Units) after failing to cover 3 of its last 4 against the spread this season. The average score was GOLDEN STATE 97.5, OPPONENT 99.5 – (Rating = 5*). Basketball scores.


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