Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder
Kenny “The Jet” Smith perfectly broke down the current state of the Thunder and the team’s win-with-offense mentality.
“They are just like your girlfriend, Chuck,” Smith said to TNT co-host Charles Barkley, “they look pretty, but no brains.”
And it’s pretty hard to argue with The Jet. The Thunder, the pick by many teams to finish second in the Western Conference and challenge the two-time defending champion Lakers, is sloppy at best on defense. Oklahoma City is 22nd in the league in points allowed (103.9), 28th in opponents field goal percentage (48.1) and 27th in opponents three-point percentage (40.4).
Combine those lack-luster numbers, along with an offense that is among the more dynamic in the league, and you have a recipe which has led to the team’s 6-1 mark against the total this season. Kevin Durant is averaging a phenomenal 28.1 points per game and Russell Westbrook, the team’s scoring point, averages 7.9 assists per night.
"This is not us," Durant said. "This is not our team. We're a lockdown defending team."
So far this season, they aren’t.
New York Knicks at Minnesota Timberwolves (+3, 213)
Don’t call the Knicks road warriors. But the team isn’t exactly road kill either.
The Knicks have split four road games this season and looked more than respectable in all but one. New York won outright as an underdog in Chicago and Toronto and then lost a nail-bitter to Boston, 105-101, but covered the spread in Massachusetts.
"We are playing well, we really are," New York forward Amar’e Stoudemire said. "We're doing a good job defensively. That's the most important factor for us right now. Our offensive is going to work itself out. Guys are slowly getting into their rhythm out there. It seems to be playing well for us."
Meantime the Timberwolves have been a punching bag for the rest of the league, going 2-7 SU this season and just 3-6 ATS. The biggest problem for this team is easy – it’s playing some of the worst defense in the league. Minnesota is yielding nearly 110 points per game, the second-worst total in the game, and is allowing opponents to shoot a whopping 47 percent from the floor.
In three home games this year, the team is a mediocre 1-2 and has given up more than 112 points in two of those losses.