NBA Betting – Chi. Hosts OKC Looking for Defense

NBA Betting – Chi. Hosts OKC Looking for Defense

Zack GarrisonNo comments

Oklahoma City Thunder at Chicago Bulls (-1, 208.5 o/u)

Derek Rose and the Chicago Bulls (3-2, 2-0 Home) put in an embarrassing performance last Tuesday, giving up 130 points to the Hornets in Charlotte (130-105). The Bulls will  look to rebound tonight when they host Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder (3-2, 1-1 Away) tonight at the United Center (8:00 PM Eastern).

It’s hard to imagine a team coached by Tom Thibodeau giving up 130 points. (Chicago allowed just over 91 PPG in 2013-14 and 97.8 last year in a season marred by injuries). But this year’s Bulls are not the Bulls of old, it would seem. With Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg now at the helm, the team is playing a more aggressive style, which has translated into more points against (just over 102 through the first five games).

The first-year head coach lamented his squad’s lack of cohesion in the blowout loss.

“It was an individual effort tonight and it seemed as if no one had anybody’s back,” Hoiberg said to the Associated Press. “We didn’t make them make the extra pass. They outrebounded us by 19 and you can go all the way down the line and it just wasn’t there and we have been pretty solid on that end of the floor. They just beat us in all areas tonight.”

The loss was Chicago’s second in the last three games.  The team also fell to the surprising Pistons in OT last Friday (98-94).

The defense will need a much better effort tonight going up against two of the best scorers in the game in the form of Durant and Westbrook. OKC’s dynamic duo has the team averaging 114.2 points per game, second only to the Golden State Warriors. Durant leads the way with 29.2 per night while Westbrook isn’t far behind at 28.6.

The offense has tailed off a bit in their last two, though, as the Thunder lost their first games of the season to the Rockets (110-105) and Raptors (102-97). A dreadful fourth quarter sealed their fate against Toronto last night; OKC took an eight-point lead into the final frame, but five of 20 in the final 12 minutes and were outscored 30-17.

Durant and company recognize what needs to be done going forward.

“It’s all correctable stuff,” the 2013-14 MVP told the Associated Press. “I’m not worried at all. It’s not like we just can’t get a grip on what’s going wrong. We turn the ball over, and we foul. That’s the game.”

While both defenses leave something to be desired in the early going, the Thunder will be better able to capitalize at the offensive end of the floor. Chicago point guard Derrick Rose is struggling to find his shot while he recovers from a facial injury, and that has spelled problems for the Bulls’ attack. (The Memphis product has been held under ten points in three straight games for the first time in his career.) Add in that Chicago is 1-5 ATS in its last six games, and 4-12 ATS in its last 16 at home against Oklahoma City, and the Thunder (+1) looks like the value play.

Pick: OKC +1.

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