Western Conference First Round
No. 5 Utah at No. 4 Oklahoma City (TNT, 6:35 p.m. ET)
2017-18 Regular Season (Thunder 3-1)
Dec. 23 Thunder (+1.5) at Jazz 103-89 (Under 197.5)
Dec. 20 Thunder (-8) vs. Jazz 107-79 (Under 196.5)
Dec. 5 Thunder (-8) vs. Jazz 100-94 (Under 199)
Oct. 21 Jazz (+4) vs. Thunder 96-87 (Under 200)
— As of early this morning, most betting shops had Oklahoma City (48-34 straight up, 34-47-1 against the spread) installed as a 3.5-point home favorite for tonight’s series opener vs. Utah. The total was 206 points and the Jazz were +145 on the money line (risk $100 to win $145).
— These franchises haven’t met in the playoffs since 2000 when Utah defeated the Seattle Supersonics 3-2 in the opening round.
— Billy Donovan’s club compiled a 27-14 SU record and a 16-24-1 ATS mark at home during the regular season.
— OKC star guard Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the second straight season. The UCLA product averaged 25.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game. Westbrook also averaged 1.8 steals per game, but he commits 4.8 turnovers per contest. Paul George averaged 21.9 PPG during the regular season, shooting at a 40.1 percent clip from 3-point land. Carmelo Anthony, another star player acquired during the offseason, averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
— OKC veteran center Steven Adams (13.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG) made 62.9 percent of his field-goal attempts during the regular season, but he’s a liability at the free-throw line (55.7%). Adams is one of The Association’s best offensive rebounders, pulling down 5.1 per game.
— After the veteran swingman was released by the Lakers back in early March, Corey Brewer reunited with Donovan, his head coach in college at Florida when the Gators won back-to-back national titles. Turns out, the 32-year-old from Portland, Tenn., does have some gas left in the tank. In 18 games with the Thunder, Brewer has averaged 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.3 APG. However, Brewer is listed as ‘questionable’ tonight vs. Utah due to a knee injury.
— Oklahoma City limped to a 3-6-1 spread record in its last 10 regular-season games.
— Utah (48-34 SU, 43-39 ATS) closed the regular season on an incredible 29-6 run in its last 35 games. The catalyst in the late-season surge has been rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell, who set an NBA record for first-year players with 187 makes from 3-point range. Since entering the starting lineup in November, Mitchell has averaged 21.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
— Utah’s Joe Ingles finished fourth in the NBA in 3-point accuracy by burying 44.0 percent of his attempts. He was 10th in total treys made with a franchise record 204 makes. Ingles joined James Harden, Damian Lillard and Kyle Lowry as the league’s only four players to tally 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 300 rebounds.
— Utah veteran point guard Ricky Rubio (13.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG) is set to make the first postseason appearance of his career. He led the Jazz in assists (5.3 APG) and steals (1.6 SPG). Rudy Gobert (13.5 PPG, 10.7 RPG) averages team-highs in FG percentage (62.2%) and blocked shots (2.3 BPG), while Derrick Favors (12.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG) converted 56.3 percent of his FGAs and averaged 1.1 blocked shots per game.
— Utah is 20-21 SU and 21-20 ATS on the road.
— Utah is ranked second in the NBA in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 99.8 PPG. The Jazz are sixth in FG percentage ‘D’ (44.9%).
— All four regular-season meetings between these teams came before Christmas. OKC won the season series 3-1, but that was before the Jazz’s furious finish. The ‘under’ cashed in all four encounters. The first meeting took place in Salt Lake City on Oct. 21 when Utah captured a 96-87 win as a 3.5-point home underdog. Ingles led five players in double figures with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from downtown. Rubio produced 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Gobert finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Anthony had a game-high 26 points and George contributed 22 points, five boards and five steals. Westbrook had one of his worst performances of the year with more turnovers (seven) than points (six). Westbrook had 13 rebounds and nine assists, but he was only 2-of-11 from the field.
— OKC beat Utah by a 100-94 count but failed to cover the number as an eight-point home favorite on Dec. 5. The 194 combined points ‘under’ the 198.5-point tally. The Thunder trailed by seven at intermission and 11 going into the final stanza, but they outscored the Jazz 32-14 in the fourth quarter. Westbrook stole the show with 34 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds. George added 21 points and Adams finished with 20 points and nine boards. Mitchell had 31 points, five steals and four assists in the losing effort.
— Oklahoma City destroyed Utah 107-79 as an eight-point home ‘chalk’ on Dec. 20. The Thunder raced out to a 25-9 lead to end the first quarter and coasted to victory. Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists compared to merely one turnover. George and Anthony added 18 points apiece.
— Three days later on Dec. 23, OKC captured a 103-89 win at Utah as a 1.5-point road underdog. Westbrook led the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while George tallied 26 points, six steals, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Mitchell had a team-best 29 points in defeat.
— Sportsbook.ag has OKC as the -135 favorite to win the series, leaving the Jazz at +115 on the comeback.
— The ‘under’ finished the regular season on an 8-2 run for OKC. The Thunder has seen the ‘under’ go 46-36 overall, 23-18 in its home outings.
— The ‘over’ went 8-3 in Utah’s last 11 games despite back-to-back ‘unders’ to close the regular season. The Jazz have watched the ‘under’ go 42-39-1 overall, but the ‘over’ cashed at a 23-17-1 clip in its road assignments.
Western Conference First Round
No. 8 Minnesota at No. 1 Houston (TNT, 9:05 p.m. ET)
2017-18 Regular Season (Rockets 4-0)
Mar. 18 Rockets (-7) at Timberwolves 129-120 (Over 222.5)
Feb. 23 Rockets (-7.5) vs. Timberwolves 120-102 (Under 223)
Feb. 12 Rockets (-3.5) at Timberwolves 126-108 (Over 224)
Jan. 18 Rockets (-5.5)vs. Timberwolves 116-98 (Under 225)
— As of early this morning, most spots had Houston (65-17 SU, 41-40 ATS) listed as an 11-point favorite with a total of 216.5. The Timberwolves were +700 on the money line (risk $100 to win $700).
— Sportsbook.ag has the Rockets as enormous -3500 favorites to advance to the West semifinals. The T-wolves are +1500 underdogs to pull the upset over the conference’s No. 1 seed (risk $100 to win $1,500). The offshore shop also has adjusted line for the series opener. If you’re really bullish on Houston, you can take it -17.5 points for a +200 payout. On the flip side, the T-wolves have +220 odds as 5.5-point underdogs.
— Mike D’Antoni’s squad went 34-7 SU and 17-23-1 ATS at home this year.
— Houston limped to a 9-17 spread record in 26 games as double-digit ‘chalk’ during the regular season.
— Although it had the top seed in the West wrapped up and wasn’t motivated to play at full tilt, we’ll nonetheless note how Houston finished the year without covering in four straight games and six of their last seven.
— Houston is dealing with a couple of key injuries. Ryan Anderson, who averages 9.3 points and 5.0 RPG while shooting at 38.6 percent clip from long distance, is ‘doubtful’ with an ankle injury. Luc Mbah a Moute, one of the team’s premier defenders, is ‘out’ for Game 1 with a shoulder injury and isn’t expected to be available for the entire series. Mbah a Moute averages 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 SPG.
— Houston star guard James Harden appears to be in a two-man race with LeBron James for The Association’s MVP honors. Harden averaged 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 SPG in 72 regular-season contests. Chris Paul averaged 18.6 points, 7.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 58 games played. Eric Gordon (18.0 PPG) is the Rockets’ third-leading scorer, while Clint Capela (13.9 PPG) paces the club in FG percentage (65.2%), rebounding (10.8 RPG) and blocked shots (1.9 BPG).
— Minnesota (47-35 SU, 37-42-3 ATS) had to win each of its last three regular-season games to lock up the franchise’s first playoff berth since Kevin Garnett led it to the 2004 Western Conference finals. The T-wolves beat out Denver for the eighth seed thanks to a 112-106 win over the Nuggets in overtime as 3.5-point home favorites in the regular-season finale. The extra session allowed for the 218 combined points to slip ‘over’ the 216.5-point total. Jimmy Butler led the way with 31 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Karl-Anthony Towns added 26 points and 14 boards. Andrew Wiggins had 18 points and Jeff Teague tallied 17 points and seven assists compared to only one turnover.
— Butler averages 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 SPG. Towns led the NBA in double-doubles with 68. The seven-foot center who is in his third season out of Kentucky is averaging 21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per contest. Wiggins (17.7 PPG), Teague (14.2 PPG, 7.0 APG), Taj Gibson (12.2 PPG) and Jamal Crawford (10.3 PPG) are also averaging in double figures.
— Minnesota is 17-24 SU and 17-23-1 ATS on the road.
— Minnesota failed to cover the spread in its only double-digit underdog role of the season. In fact, the T-wolves went 0-6 ATS when listed as ‘dogs of seven points or more.
— Houston won all four regular-season meetings over Minnesota both SU and ATS. Totals were a split (2-2), but the ‘under’ cashed in both games played at Houston. The Rockets won 116-98 and 120-102 in a pair of games played at home. They won by scores of 126-108 and 129-120 at Minnesota.
— The ‘under’ has been a money maker in Houston games all season, cashing tickets at a 48-33-1 overall clip. The Rockets saw the ‘under’ go 22-19 in their home games. They finished the regular season with four consecutive ‘unders’ and seven in their last eight contests.
— The ‘over’ is 45-36-1 overall for the T-wolves, 21-20 in their road assignments