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Thunder return home Monday to host Nuggets
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 11/18/2013  at  3:46:00 AM
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Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -9, Total: 210.5

Following a three-game road trip, the Thunder head back home Monday to take on the Nuggets, winners of three of their past four contests.

Denver struggled to open up the season, but has recently seen the team getting the type of offensive play that propelled it to the top of the league in scoring last year. After winning three straight games SU and ATS to get back to .500, the Nuggets dropped their last game on the road against the Rockets, losing 122-111 and failing to cover the 8-point spread. Oklahoma City is coming off a three-game road trip in which it salvaged a 1-2 SU (2-1 ATS) record with a 92-79 victory over the Bucks on Saturday, holding them to a mere 34.9% shooting from the field. Last season these two franchises met up four times, with the Thunder winning the first meeting by 20 points, but the Nuggets taking the final three games (SU and ATS), including a 114-104 road victory the last time they met on March 19. Over the past three seasons, Oklahoma City is 26-12 ATS (68%) versus teams who average seven or less steals per game on the season and are 63-40 ATS (61%) after playing 2+ straight road games since Scott Brooks took over as coach. But Denver has thrived in high-scoring affairs over the past two seasons, going 19-9 ATS (68%) when the total is at least 210. Both C JaVale McGee (tibia) and SF Danilo Gallinari (knee) continue to recover from injury and will miss this game for the Nuggets. Starting SG Thabo Sefolosha, a key defensive player for the Thunder, missed Saturday’s game with an illness, but is probable for Monday.

Can the Thunder win comfortably over a surging Nuggets squad? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Forecaster has been spot-on so far this season with a 60% ATS record (28-19) in featured games, while the five experts are a sizzling 65% ATS (15-8) on Best Bets since Tuesday night. StatFox Gary is 4-1 ATS on Best Bets during this stretch, while StatFox Brian is 4-1 ATS since Nov. 10.

The Nuggets started the season in the pits, averaging only 93.3 PPG on 40% FG over the first three games (0-3), but have scored at least 100 points in each of the past six contests, averaging 108.5 PPG on 45% FG over that time. Denver’s defense has been suspect at times, allowing 104.6 PPG this season, but the club still blocks 6.1 shots per game (T-4th in league). PG Ty Lawson (21.2 PPG, 8.7 APG, 4.4 RPG) looks to be the Nuggets' franchise player for the future and had a huge game on Saturday, scoring 28 points (11-of-19 FG) with 17 assists in the loss to the Rockets. He did not perform well against the Thunder last season though, netting only 12.3 PPG (40.9% FG) and dishing out 5.3 APG, but did score 25 points (8-of-13 FG) the last time the two teams met on March 19. The healthy return of SF Wilson Chandler (15.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG) has given the team an all-around threat who has produced coming off the bench in his three games thus far, knocking down 50% of his shot and 9-of-17 threes. Chandler averaged 18.7 PPG on 60% FG (6-of-8 threes) coming off the bench in three games against the Thunder last season. PF Kenneth Faried (10.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG) has had double-digit rebounds in each of the past four games.

The Thunder are averaging 103.0 PPG this season and have scored 100 points are more in seven of nine games. They have the NBA's second-most trips to the foul line (29.6 FTA per game) and are also second in the league with an 82.3% FT clip. In the first two games of their recent road trip, the defense gave up 111 and 116 points to two of the top offensive teams in the NBA (Clippers and Warriors) but bounced back Saturday, allowing a season-low 79 points to the Bucks. SF Kevin Durant (28.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.1 APG) continues to be the top scorer in the league and has netted 33+ points in five of nine games this season. Durant has dominated the Nuggets in 22 career games against them with 29.6 PPG (48% FG) and 7.0 RPG, and there is no reason why he will not dominate again on Monday. PG Russell Westbrook (21.7 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.3 RPG) is showing no ill effects from his April knee injury, and has averaged 28.5 PPG on 58% FG over his past two contests. He has averaged 22.4 PPG and 6.4 APG in 19 career games against the Nuggets, but really elevated his game last season against them with 32.8 PPG, 6.0 APG and 5.0 RPG. Coming off his second career 20-rebound performance, PF Serge Ibaka (14.9 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.0 BPG) has scored double-digit points in each of his past six games. He started the season with 26 total points over the first three contests. Ibaka has never really been an offensive force in his 15 career games (nine starts) against Denver with 9.3 PPG and 6.9 RPG, but does have 43 blocks (2.9 BPG) when facing them including 4.4 BPG over the past two seasons.

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