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Feb 19 NBA Action: Compelling TOTAL Play on Mavericks @ Thunder

Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder u212

The first day of NBA action since the All-Star break features a light, two-game calendar. Fear not though, the excitement will ratchet up considerably tomorrow, as a baker's dozen games hit the docket.

Our two simulation models both highlight the UNDER as a compelling play, when the Mavericks head to Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. This approach expects aggregate scoring to disappoint by 6-7 points this evening. One computer routine sports a 4-2 February record handicapping NBA game totals when implied value on the UNDER is within 6-8 points. The second model is 3-0 this month under the same circumstances.

In addition to computer trials though, we also utilize old fashioned quantitative analysis, to crosscheck our totals picks. We examine average home and away scores for the involved teams, and adjust each to account for the strength of the defense each unit will face (for this purpose, we measure strength of defense by average points allowed at home or away, as is appropriate). This approach yields a result that is almost uncannily consistent with the output of the machines, calling for a combined total of 205.1. Through the first 19 days of this month, this factor is 4-3 picking NBA UNDERS when implied value falls in this ballpark.

For all the offensive fire power that Durant and Westbrook represent, the Thunder are quite turnover-prone. In fact, at over 14 per game at home, OKC ranks 20th in the league by turnovers committed. Superstar Guard, Russell Westbrook, who was recently named 2015 All-Star MVP, is perched near the top of the list at #6. However, Westbrook is not lonely, as Oklahoma City has six players ranking in the top 100 by TOs per game. We expect the Thunder's casual attitude toward valuing possessions to limit scoring opportunities tonight.

The Mavericks are solid at protecting the ball (ranking 8th in turnovers per contest away), and boast a top offense to boot (the Mavs are the fifth highest scoring road team in the NBA). However, we are looking for a resolved (and talented) Thunder squad to exert defensive effort and hold the offensively explosive Mavs in check. OKC gives up the fewer points per game at home than 25 other NBA teams. They also sort fifth by opponents shooting percentage, thus it is not a stretch to forecast a strong defensive showing tonight.

Bottom line: From our perch, all indications point to a combined total in the low-200s. At 45% from the floor, the Thunder are middle-of-the-road shooters on their home floor (ranking 14th of 30 teams), while they tend to commit more than their fair share of turnovers. We think these characteristics will limit their offensive output tonight.

Further, with OKC trailing the Suns in the race for the 8th playoff spot in the West, the imperative for a late-season push is obvious. Therefore, we also expect the Thunder to turn up their defensive intensity -- slowing Dallas' productivity. Taking the UNDER.

Happy betting!!

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