NBA Betting, DFS Guide: Thunder-Rockets, Pels-Warriors, More
and KD vs. The Beard. It’s not quite playoff time, but it’s starting to feel like it. This potential playoff matchup headlines a Saturday slate, but two other Western Conference heavy hitters have our attention, too.
Here’s what you need to know for the final Saturday of the NBA regular season. — Mark Gallant
All info as of Saturday morning. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.
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OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AT HOUSTON ROCKETS (-5.5) | O/U: 218
8 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: The Thunder need this game; Houston doesn’t. But the Rockets will play it to the bone, because that’s their jam. If you’re live-betting, keep an eye out for how much Houston targets Carmelo Anthony in the pick-and-roll. If they’re not targeting him, they’re not fully committed in this game. If they are, it actually means something to them.
A key component here is going to be Steven Adams vs. the James Harden-Clint Capela pick-and-roll. Adams can maintain space to contest Harden and the lob, forcing runners — the one weak point in Harden’s game, although The Beard’s been better this year in that regard (62nd percentile per possession via Synergy Sports).
OKC’s bench unit has been surprisingly competent this year, but it’s hit or miss. They need to hit to win this game. — Matt Moore
Metrics to know: These squads have met twice this season, splitting the series. In the first one that the Thunder won, Chris Paul was absent and Andre Roberson was still healthy. The second time, CP3 played and the Rockets cruised to a 10-point victory on the road. For all of the talent on both teams in this one, the Rockets are just on another level this season with their two superstars together. Per Cleaning the Glass, in the 1,833 minutes with CP3 and James Harden on the floor together, the Rockets have outscored opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions, and they’ve posted an Offensive Rating of 120.6. For reference, the Rockets’ NBA-best season-long mark is 112.8. They’ve been the best team in the league this season when fully healthy. Period. — Bryan Mears
Trend No. 1 to know: Dating back to January 2014, James Harden is 9-0 SU and 6-3 ATS at home against his former team, covering the spread by 6.1 PPG. Harden is averaging 33.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 8.2 APG against OKC at home in that span. — Evan Abrams
Trend No. 2 to know: OKC lost to Golden State 111-107 on Tuesday. Road teams with four or more days between games in the second half of the season have gone 116-91-1 (56%) ATS against an opponent on normal rest (three or fewer days). — John Ewing
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS AT GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (-6) | O/U: 225
8 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: On Thursday, the Warriors got smoked by Indiana, prompting Steve Kerr to say the team’s problem was “a lack of caring.” Kevin Durant responded the team gave effort but the other team had a better “strategy.” So that’s fun. Exhausting, injury-plagued seasons stress everyone out.
However, you have to think the Warriors are going to have at least one “Oh yeah, they’re the Warriors and everyone is doomed” game, even without Curry. The Pelicans are on a back-to-back, but at least they got an easy game on the front end vs. Phoenix.
A loss and a Denver win vs. the Clippers puts New Orleans in ninth place with two to play. So kind of a big deal.
Anthony Davis goes absolutely bonkers vs. the Warriors but it’s rarely enough. The question is just how much the Warriors will invest in this game. — Matt Moore
Metrics to know: Theoretically Stephen Curry shouldn’t be worth that much to the spread considering the Warriors also have Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. But the data suggests Steph still has an MVP-like impact on his team: When he’s been off the floor this season, the Dubs are 11.6 points/100 worse, and they’re a ridiculous 15.0 points/100 worse on offense. That’s the most extreme mark in the league of any player this season. The Warriors post an effective field goal rate 6.7 percentage points higher when he’s on the floor, and they get to the line 5.2% more. Over the past 10 games, the Warriors are merely 14th in the NBA with a +0.5 net rating, going 5-5 in that stretch. They’ll catch a Pels team on the second leg of a back-to-back tonight, but are they in danger in their first-round playoff series? — Bryan Mears
Did you know? April 7, 2015: A day Anthony Davis will never forget (maybe). It was three years ago today that Brow recorded his first and only straight-up win against the Warriors. He put up 29 and 10 and beat a healthy Golden State squad. Now the bad part: Davis is 1-19 SU and 9-11 ATS in his career in the regular season and playoffs against the Warriors. — Evan Abrams
Trend No. 2 to know: The Warriors were embarrassed Thursday, losing in Indiana, 126-106. Teams that have won 70% or more of their games, like Golden State, and lost their previous matchup by 20 or more points have gone 44-34-3 (56%) ATS in their next outing (since 2005). The Dubs are 2-0 ATS in this spot this season. — John Ewing
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS (-5) | 202
10:30 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: The Blazers are a buzzsaw right now. Damian Lillard is slated to play, and both teams have a lot on the line here. The Blazers are playing for the 3-seed, and Spurs need a win and a Denver loss to clinch.
LaMarcus Aldridge should cook in the post; Jusuf Nurkic is surprisingly weak there. Much of this will come down to Danny Green vs. C.J. McCollum. Green’s maybe the best transition defender in the NBA, and stymying easy Blazers buckets to choke their volatile offense gives San Antonio the clearest path to victory. But that won’t matter if the Spurs can’t hit shots, which, honestly, is a coin flip most nights. — Matt Moore
Metrics to know: After torching the league through most of early March, the Blazers have come back to earth. Over their past 10, they sit 10th in the league with a +1.8 net rating, going 5-5 over that stretch. The biggest storyline for them moving forward is how their bench will hold up on the playoffs. The main two lineups for the Blazers have played 951 and 900 minutes — a combination of Damian Lillard-C.J. McCollum-Al Farouq Aminu-Jusuf Nurkic and either Evan Turner or Moe Harkless at the 3. Those lineups have crushed, posting net ratings of +10.8 and +9.0. But the next most-used lineups have played just 305 minutes or fewer, and a lot of them have struggled. They’re mostly with Shabazz Napier in for Lillard, and, while he’s been a fun story this year, those lineups aren’t sustainable against the Spurs or in the Western Conference playoffs. That means heavy minutes for the starters from here on out. — Bryan Mears
Trend No. 1 to know: Portland and San Antonio have each lost two games in a row. In similar instances in the past, the team with home-court advantage has gone 124-67 (65%) straight-up but only 99-90-2 (52%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing
Trend No. 2 to know: The Spurs are going to finish with fewer than 50 wins for the first time in 20 years. With expectations set at a different level than we’ve all been used to, San Antonio has really excelled against the line at home, going 24-13-2 ATS — their most profitable season since 2011. The Spurs have also excelled against opponents over .500 at home, going 13-7 ATS (including 7-0 ATS since March 1st). — Evan Abrams
Quick Hits on the Rest of the Slate
DENVER NUGGETS (-3.5) AT LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS | O/U: 222
3:30 p.m. ET
Trend to know: In April, when teams in playoff contention (win rate of 50-60%) meet, the underdog has gone 62-48-1 (56%) ATS. — John Ewing
Did you know? It’s now or never for the Nuggets. Denver is 9-15 ATS on the road against the Western Conference this season and just 4-8 ATS on the road vs. the West since the New Year. In the Nuggets’ last road game in this spot, they beat the Thunder as underdogs. Which Denver team will show up tonight? — Evan Abrams
MILWAUKEE BUCKS (-9.5) AT NEW YORK KNICKS | O/U: 215
7:30 p.m. ET
Trend to know: Bad teams (win rate of 40% or worse) on a back-to-back like the Knicks have gone 126-119-4 (51.4%) ATS in April. Against an opponent with a winning record they are 61-50-1 (55%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing
Did you know? Over the Bucks’ past 14 games, 13 of them have gone over the total by an average of 14.4 PPG dating back to March 9. — Evan Abrams
BROOKLYN NETS (-5.5) AT CHICAGO BULLS | O/U: 218.5
8 p.m. ET
Trend to know: Brooklyn opened as five-point favorites in Chicago. Road favorites in April against bad teams (win rate of 40% or worse) have gone 182-124-6 (60%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing
Did you know? This the first time since 2014-15 that Brooklyn has been favored by five or more points on the road. This is just the fourth time this season that the Nets have been favored on the road this season. They went 2-1 SU and ATS in their previous three games. — John Ewing
Pictured above: Russell Westbrook
Photo credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports