Thunder-Warriors Opening Night Betting Preview: Can OKC Function Without Westbrook?

Thunder-Warriors Opening Night Betting Preview: Can OKC Function Without Westbrook? article feature image

Photos from USATODAY Sports. Pictured: Paul George and Kevin Durant

Betting odds: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors

  • Spread: Warriors -13
  • Over/Under: 220.5
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: TNT

The first night of the 2018-19 NBA season is finally upon us, and our NBA crew is here to discuss what it’s watching for, plus its favorite bets and betting trends to know for tonight’s second game.

What Moore Is Watching For

Russell Westbrook is unlikely to play in the opener, and no Andre Roberson, either.

Not. Great. Bob.

Westbrook’s relentless attack gives the Warriors problems, as we’ve seen through the years, and Golden State gets up for these games after a close call in 2016, even without Russ. An offense built around Paul George and Steven Adams, with no real shooters to speak of, does not bode well against maybe the most prolific offense of all time.

That line is so high, and Golden State’s focus will be wavering by the fourth quarter, as a shoddy bench unit probably fills early minutes. Then again, the Warriors tend to play their starters even in blowouts to get the numbers where they need them. I despise this line and everything it stands for, and it’s a bummer that this is the late game on opening night.

One matchup to watch: Adams is going to get a higher touch rate than normal. OKC has long believed he’s capable of more if he could just get the ball sometimes. Without Westbrook’s drive and drop-off, it’ll be interesting to see if that happens and how much the Warriors decide to key in on him. If Golden State shuts down Adams, the Thunder may score in the 80s, even in a fast-paced game. Matt Moore

The Thunder Are Not Good Without Westbrook and Roberson

According to our new proprietary power ratings, we pegged this game at about 8-9 points with Westbrook in and about 13 to 13.5 if he’s out. After the line opened at 12, got to 11 for a moment but is now up to 13, it’s clear the market has adjusted to Westbrook’s doubtful tag.

But is that enough of an adjustment?

The Thunder had drastic splits last season with Westbrook and Roberson on the floor versus off…

  • Westbrook and Roberson on: 112.8 Offensive Rating, 101.7 Defensive Rating
  • Westbrook and Roberson off: 107.7 Offensive Rating, 113.4 Defensive Rating

For reference, that’s an offensive difference between the Warriors and a league-average team and a defensive difference of best in the league to by far the worst in the league.

These guys matter: Per Cleaning the Glass, the Thunder were 10.7 points per 100 possessions better with Westbrook on versus off. They were 7.1 points/100 better with Roberson on versus off. There are a handful of non-stars who should affect betting markets (they don’t, because books need to manage money instead of predicting a player’s true value), and Roberson is one of those players.

Again, there’s less value at -13 than at -11.5 obviously, which could make this game a stayaway, but I think it’s more likely we see the Warriors blow out this hurt Thunder team than we see OKC keep it close. Bryan Mears

Betting Trends to Know

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors are 79-85-2 (48%) ATS as double-digit favorites in the regular season. Since adding Kevin Durant, Golden State is 40-49-1 (45%) ATS when favored by 10 or more points, per Bet Labs.

OKC is just the fourth team since 2005 to make the playoffs the previous season and be listed as a double-digit underdog in Game 1 the following year. The previous three teams all lost, on average by 15.3 points and failed to cover. John Ewing

Golden State has really struggled in the first half under Kerr. As a double-digit favorite, the Warriors are 69-93-4 (42.6%) against the first-half spread, losing bettors 29.3 units. That makes Kerr the least profitable coach in the NBA in that spot. Evan Abrams

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.