When the team with the best record in the NBA comes to play, they’ll be considered the favorites. But when the 32-8 Oklahoma City Thunder come to visit the Denver Nuggets, with one of the best home records in the NBA, it suddenly isn’t such a guaranteed thing.
There are more things to factor in – The Nuggets just lost to the Thunder by 20 points on Wedensday in Oklahoma City, and lost again to the Washington Wizards two days later. The Thunder on the other hand are winning their last six games, including an overtime win of 117-114 over the Dallas Mavericks, as Kevin Durant set a new career high of 52 points.
Durant scored those 52 points despite shooting only 41.9% from the field, aided by 21 free throws he made from the line on a night of getting a lot of help from the refs. As of late, Russell Westbrook has been the player in really good form for the Thunder, scoring 31 points against the Mavs and 33 points per game in their last three wins, including 32 points in the 117-97 win over the Denver Nuggets. The big key has been his shot selection, making 54.3% of his field goals, or more, in each one of the last three games.
Something the Nuggets will need to do extremely well in order to win is protect the offensive glass. Their top rebounder this season is Kenneth Faried with 9.9 this season, but they’re one of the worst in the NBA when it comes to protecting their own boards, giving up 12.7 offensive rebounds per game this season, third worst in the league. They’re also the best in the NBA with 13.9 per game in getting these offensive boards, which might mean more minutes for JaVale McGee, averaging 18.9 minutes per game this season.
Predictions – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing unstoppable basketball at the moment, combining for 83 points against the Mavs on Friday. If the Nuggets don’t clamp down on defense, which doesn’t happen very often for them, and manage to make the most of their fast-paced style, this is going to be another easy win for the team with the best record in the NBA.