Star-laden teams off to disappointing starts clash in Oklahoma City on Thursday when the winless Thunder host the 2-2 Celtics. It's an 8 p.m. ET tipoff from Chesapeake Energy Arena. OKC fell to 0-3 with a 131-120 home loss to Sacramento on Sunday despite Russell Westbrook's return from September knee surgery. Boston, pegged as the East's best, is smarting from a 93-90 home loss to Orlando on Monday. Sportsbooks list OKC as a 1.5-point-favorite in the latest Celtics vs. Thunder odds, with the over-under for total points scored set at 212. Before you make any Celtics vs. Thunder picks, you need to see what NBA expert Galin "The Dragon" Dragiev has to say.
An NBA fantasy expert with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, Dragiev uses his strong analytical background whenever he makes a pick. And he has uncanny data on Boston and Oklahoma City: In his past 24 against-the-spread picks involving the Celtics, Dragiev has been correct 17 times -- including calling Boston (-5) to hammer Philly in the NBA season opener, an 18-point Celtics blowout. In his past 17 spread picks involving OKC, he's 12-5, giving him a stunning 29-12 mark with these teams.
Now, Dragiev has analyzed Celtics-Thunder from every possible angle and locked in a strong point-spread pick. He's sharing it over at SportsLine.
Dragiev knows Westbrook poured in 32 points with 12 rebounds and eight assists in his season debut Sunday, showing no ill effects from his layoff. Paul George is averaging 25.3 points to give OKC one of the league's top scoring duos.
Guard Alex Abrines is expected to return from an eye injury, lending OKC more versatile depth. The Thunder have won 10 of the past 14 meetings and will look to take advantage of a Boston team that has failed to cover six straight road games.
But just because the Thunder are talented, desperate and playing in front of their raucous fans doesn't mean they take out the mighty Celtics.
Boston might have slipped up versus Orlando, but the Celts still are the team to beat in the East. Jayson Tatum (17.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and Kyrie Irving (16.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) lead five scorers who are averaging in double-figures, part of the NBA's deepest roster.
Gordon Hayward and Irving each missed potential game-tying shots against the Magic, and that's not likely to happen again. Returning from a serious ankle injury, Hayward is averaging 11.7 points in limited minutes (24.7 per game) while shooting 45.5 percent from deep.
We can tell you Dragiev is leaning under, but his much stronger play is against the spread. He says there's a huge x-factor that will make the difference Thursday night.
So which side of Celtics-Thunder should you back? And what is the huge x-factor Dragiev has isolated? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to be all over, all from the expert who's hitting 71 percent of his pointspread picks involving Boston and Oklahoma City, and find out.