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NBA Preview: 25th January

WE get ready to start a new NBA week on the PlayBook by finding some nice value on offer for punters.

Here’s today’s best bet from our expert analyst;

Chicago Bulls @ Oklahoma City Thunder

THE Chicago bulls take on Oklahoma City on the second night of a back-to-back after being comprehensively beaten by the lowly Orlando Magic.

Chicago should be starting to feel the fatigue and pressure of an extended road trip playing only one of their last six games at home, with this matchup also being their fourth game in just six nights.

The loss of Alex Caruso for an extended period has lumped an enormous amount of strain on a team that is struggling for healthy bodies at the moment.

Despite Demar DeRozan continuing his brilliant individual form this season the heavy toll on Chicago’s rotations is showing and, simply put, their replacement level players are unable to matchup and compete for extended periods of game time.

OKC return home after a long road trip themselves. They have now lost five straight games and will welcome the opportunity to take down a contender level team feeling the pinch of the gruelling NBA season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been stellar for the Thunder scoring at an extremely high level while averaging 27 points per game over his last seven outings.

Both of these side rank in the bottom eight sides in the league for points scored per possession and rate as below league average in pace.

On the season, Chicago rank amongst the league best sides in halfcourt offence, but over their recent road trip they have failed to find consistency at that end of the floor and sit in the bottom-third (2oth) of the league in that category.

One of the areas where they have been hit the hardest is their ballhandling and facilitator rotations. They managed only 10 combined assists in their loss to the Magic and a lot of their offensive struggles stem from their lack of creativity on offensive sets. Taking care of the ball was also a glaring concern as they gave up 21 turnovers in a very loose performance with the ball in hand.

OKC rates fifth in the league in transition frequency off steals and are converting their opportunities, scoring a tick over two points per possession. The Thunder defence is also allowing the fourth least points per play in halfcourt offensive sets at the moment, which is a testament to their work at that end of the floor.

The Thunder don’t have the firepower to outgun sides so their best chance at being competitive in this matchup is to turn the game into a grind and make the most of their chances in transition off turnovers. The hosts are 28-18 to the under this season and it’s because of their ability to slow the pace of games and turn them hard-fought battles. Given the heavy workload of both sides recently, and the travel schedule to match, it would be prudent not to assume fatigue will play a factor in this game.

My total for this game comes out around 208 so we are getting a nice early edge on the full game number here.

Our best bet: Under 217.5 points $1.92 at PlayUp


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