Brooklyn Nets (8-17) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (15-7)
NBA Basketball: Wednesday, December 5 2018 7:30 PM EST (Barclays Center)
Line: BKN +7
FREE NBA Pick Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Oklahoma City Thunder continue their Eastern Conference road trip as they take on the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center this Wednesday night. Oklahoma is riding a 3 game winning streak and coming off a dominating 110-83 victory over the Pistons on Monday night. Brooklyn, meanwhile, hasn’t won a game since November 21st and are 2-8 in their last 10.
Oh boy, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Nets. The team is riding a 7-game losing streak, having lost another close game, this time against the lowly Cavaliers at home on Monday night. The Nets have been the worst team in close games this year, going 4-11 in games decided by 5 points or less. 2 games before the loss against the Cavs, they suffered an absolute meltdown against the Grizzlies by blowing a 7-point lead with just 33 seconds left. The Nets are not a good defensive team giving up 111 points a game, 16th in the NBA, and a 110 defensive rating, 21st in the NBA. Offensively, they aren’t much better. They average just 108 points a game, 20th in the NBA. During this 7-game losing streak, that number has fallen to 105 a game and defensively they are allowing 113 points per game. Brooklyn is not a good shooting team, ranking bottom in the league in both FG% and 3FG%. They do take a ton of 3-pointers, large in part thanks to D’Angelo Russell who is hoisting 7 triples per game. Although Russell has improved slightly from last year, the team still does better when Russell is off the court. Offensively, they score roughly 3 more points per game and defensively, they allow 4 points less per game. Russell plays more minutes than anyone on the team, which will only continue to increase since Caris LeVert is likely out for the season with his leg injury. Trying to focus on the positive, one of the Nets’ big bright spots for this year is center Jarrett Allen. The second year center is averaging 12.2 points and 8.3 boards in 28 minutes of action. While improving on the offensive end, Allen has to work harder on the defensive side to be an effective player. He will certainly have his hands full tonight against the Thunder.
Oklahoma City Preview
No team, besides the Raptors, had a better November than the Thunder did. The Thunder went 12-3 over the month, including some solid wins against the Warriors, Rockets, Pelicans, and the Hornets. After their dominant November, they dismantled the Pistons to open up December. The Thunder rank in the middle of the pack in points per game, scoring just 110. They don’t shoot the ball well either, ranking in the bottom half of the league across all shooting categories. But that’s not how the Thunder are winning their games. The team has morphed into a defensive monster who are giving up just 102 points a game, second in the league. Over their last 15 games, they have allowed just 98(!) points per game while holding opponents to 43.6% shooting, 31% from downtown, and just 18 FTA per game over that stretch. Their net rating has been a league best 11.8 as well This is amazing for a team that is missing their best defensive player in Andre Roberson. Opponents aren’t rebounding the ball well against them either, collecting just 41.7 a game. Their two most used lineups, featuring Paul George, Dennis Schroder/Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Jerami Grant, and Terrance Ferguson are a +24, giving up just 93 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end. The Thunder are positioning themselves to be the second team in the West if they keep this defensive effort up.
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FREE NBA Prediction Brooklyn Nets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Brooklyn Nets have been on a horrible slide over the last few weeks and now they have to play the best defensive team in the league who are on a roll. 7 points is a lot, but I think the Nets are going to get killed on the glass and have trouble scoring. OKC will be happy to watch D’Angelo Russell clank three-pointers all night.
Pick: OKC -7