Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New York Knicks – NBA, January 8, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| January 8, 2021 4:43 am PDT

This should be a good matchup of east versus west as both teams look to pile the pressure on the leaders of their respective Divisions.

The Thunder have struggled for consistency recently and have failed to record back to back wins this season.

The Knicks however are going from strength to strength and have won their last three in a row, making it five wins from their last six games.

Although the Thunder have struggled for consistency this season this is something that certainly can’t be said in their games against the Knicks as they have won eight of the last nine against them.

This includes winning four of the last five in New York. When I broke those games down and analyzed them it appears that they were won in two key areas as the Thunder averaged seven rebounds more per game and scored almost 20 more three-pointers.

Thunder vs. Knicks Odds

Thunder (+2.5) -110
Knicks (-2.5) -110
Thunder To Win +120
Knicks To Win -140
Over 208.5 Points -110
Under 208.5 Points -110

The thing that stands out most when assessing the odds for this game is how low the betting total is set. The Thunder are notoriously known for high scoring games.

Thunder Analysis

Although Oklahoma have struggled to put a decent run together this season, they have won two of their last three games against both the Magic and Pelicans, who have both started the season well.

They have been particularly good on the road where they have picked up all three of their wins so far this season.

They have also enjoyed facing teams from the Eastern Conference winning seven of the last games against teams based there.

They are also good against the spread winning eight of their last 12 games and six of the last seven against the Knicks. They have also done well against teams from the Atlantic Division winning eight of the last nine games. January has also been a good month for them as they have only lost two of the last 11.

As previously mentioned historically the Thunder have always been involved in high-scoring games, which is the case when they have faced the Knicks at Maddison Square Garden, as four of the last five games held there have gone over the betting total.

Looking at the average scored of each team when playing against each other over the last ten games they are averaging seven points more than the betting total here. However, things are changing with seven of their last ten games going under the betting total. This has also been the case on the road recently with six of the last seven following suit.

The main change has been the Thunders offense who has been firing blanks this season, averaging the lowest points score in the league. It’s no surprise then to see that they have the fourth lowest field goal percentage in the NBA.

They are also the worst team for scoring three-pointers this season which was an area that they had previously been very good in, especially against the Knicks. If you exclude the Cavaliers they have also been the worst team from the free-throw line so it pays to have an aggressive approach against them as they haven’t been punishing teams that do.

So how do they turn things around? If they start by pressing the boards more, particularly in attack where they are missing so many shots it will help improve upon their poor scoring totals that they have posted. They currently average just seven offensive rebounds per game which is the third-lowest in the league.

They also need to stop turning the ball over so easily as they currently average 17 per game which is the fourth-worst record this season. Lastly, as well as pressing the boards they need to press the ball and work harder to steal the ball away from their opponents as they have the fifth lowest number of steals also.

Overall they just need to be more aggressive and let their opponent know that they’re in for a tough game as although they are disciplined averaging the second-lowest amount of personal fouls per game, they are making life too easy for teams.

Their defense has been better which hasn’t been hard but nevertheless has given them a fighting chance in their games.

They have three players who are doubtful for this game as Jerome and Pokusevski recover from injuries and Ariza has personal issues.

Knicks Analysis

The Knicks have started the season well and have built a platform for themselves too have a good year.

They have won two of their opening three games at home, which was the last two that they played. They posted convincing wins by margins of 20 against the Bucks and 12 against the Jazz last time out, so they will be confident of a positive result here.

It will be interesting to see how they cope with the title of favorites as in all eight of their games so far this season they have been the betting underdogs.

Much like Oklahoma, they too have done well against the spread winning five of their last six games. This trend has continued at home as they have won six of the last eight in which they have had home-court advantage. Also like the Thunder they too have done well in the month of January winning eight of the last ten, meaning something will have to give here.

However they don’t like playing against teams from the Western Conference as they have lost 11 of the last 13. The Northwest in particular has been a troublesome area for the Knicks as they have only won two of the last 20 games against opponents in that Division.

Their games have been low scoring just as the Thunders games have as their last five in a row have gone under the betting total. So we are now starting to see why the bookmakers are anticipating such a low scoring game.

Although their stats offensively are average you would still anticipate that they should be producing more points per game as they currently have the second-lowest average in the league. However, this does improve when they play at the garden which is a good omen for the Knicks.

Their high pressing defense has been their key to success so far this season as they are good in all areas, especially against three-pointers where they have conceded the lowest amount in the league. This has particularly served them well when they have taken an early lead as teams have struggled to reduce the deficit.

This game could essentially come down to whoever holds on to the ball better and doesn’t give away cheap turnovers as just like the Thunder the Knicks average 17 turnovers per game.

The Knicks have quite a few health injuries heading into this game with four players doubtful and two definitely confirmed as out.

Thunder vs. Knicks Pick

It’s now easy to see why the bookmakers have set the betting total so low, however it’s too low for my liking. Although the Knicks have some injury concerns I still think they have enough in the locker to beat the Thunder here.

  • Knicks (-2.5)



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