Rockets vs. Thunder Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Will CP3 & Co. Spoil Russell Westbrook’s OKC Return?

Rockets vs. Thunder Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Will CP3 & Co. Spoil Russell Westbrook’s OKC Return? article feature image

Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul (3) of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Rockets at Thunder Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions

  • Spread: Rockets -4
  • Over/Under: 226.5
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

Odds as of Thursday and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

Even Thunder general manager Sam Presti could not have expected his team to be playing as well as they have been when he swung the blockbuster trade that landed Chris Paul in Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook in Houston.

OKC has a chance to add another impressive win to their surprising run in Westbrook’s first game back at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Is an upset looming?

Our crew previews how they are betting this matchup including how to play Westbrook’s player props.

Betting Trend to Know

Did you know? The Thunder have been the most profitable team in the NBA this season going 25-12 (68%) against the spread.

A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $1,201 wagering on OKC. As underdogs, the Thunder are an even better 17-6 (74%) ATS. John Ewing

Bryan Mears: Can the Thunder Spoil Westbrook’s Return?

The Thunder have played excellent basketball of late, winning 10 of their last 12. It’s been a run against some bad teams, although they do have some impressive wins against the Mavs and Clippers.

The big angle tonight in this game — other than the Russell Westbrook revenge game — is the “math problem.” Look at the Thunder’s shot profile over their recent run (percentages is frequency of shots at that spot):

The Rockets, meanwhile, continue to play a drastic offensive style, taking 44.6% of their shots from behind the arc. They’ve struggled to hit those shots more than in past years, but the offensive is still pretty similar: Pace (first in the league) and space, let James Harden create and jack up 3s.

The Rockets won the first meeting at home, and that was with the Rockets shooting 23.3% from 3. They took a bunch more than the Thunder, actually made fewer overall and still won. If that reverts, the math problem will absolutely be an issue here for OKC.

Another important angle is that the Thunder will be missing Nerlens Noel and Danilo Gallinari again due to injuries. It’s a bit difficult to tease out Gallo’s value in particular: The team has been 2.6 points/100 better with him on the floor vs. off, but the splits are stark. The offense has been 13.6 points/100 better (99th percentile), whereas the defense has been 11.0/100 worse (3rd percentile).

But it’s hard to disentangle his value from the rest of the starting lineup — all of those guys, including Chris Paul, Steven Adams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, have similar offensive splits for the team.

It’s noticeable that in 524 possessions this year with Gallo on the bench but Paul and Adams playing, the Thunder have posted a +9.6 point differential. The offense has been admittedly middling, but the defense has been incredible.

I’m skeptical Gallo is that much a negative defensively, although he does rank 75th among PFs this season with a -1.25 Defensive Real Plus-Minus currently. My opinion is that the offense will be hurt without Gallo, a good shooter and overall a very underrated player on that end, and the defense won’t be quite as good as the data so far suggests.

Given that information, I think the Rockets are rightfully favored, even on the road, although I’m not seeing much value on the spread at the current number of -4. If it dips back down to -3 or lower, they’d be worth a look. — Bryan Mears

The Top Rockets-Thunder Prop Bet

THE PICK: Russell Westbrook Over 7.5 rebounds (-133)

Westbrook is finally returning to Oklahoma City to play his first game there since leaving the franchise this summer. Maybe you heard.

All eyes will be on Westbrook as he makes his return. He sat out last night to be healthy and ready for this one, and the arena will be rocking. Westbrook’s usage is down a bit this year, and his counting numbers have taken a step back. James Harden is the numbers monster now, and the nightly triple-doubles for Westbrook have waned.

Doesn’t it feel like tonight might be a throwback to Russ’s old OKC days? The last time Russ played with extra motivation, it was when Kevin Durant left and Westbrook averaged a triple-double for an entire season.

Rebounding is about effort as much as anything, and Russ is going to want to grab and go. He’s averaging 7.9 rebounds even in a “down” season. Add in a few extra minutes on the court and some extra bounce in his step, and it’s easy to see why our model has him at 9.5 boards.

Personally, I’m grabbing the Westbrook Over 24.5 points too and looking for a throwback game, but our model doesn’t love that one. It rates his rebounds a 10 out of 10, and I’m riding this one hard all the way to -175. — Brandon Anderson

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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