Rockets vs. Thunder odds: 2020 NBA picks, predictions for Russell Westbrook's return from model on 26-13 run

Russell Westbrook returns to Oklahoma City for the first time in an opposing uniform on Thursday evening. Westbrook will be wearing the colors of the Houston Rockets and, while his team is facing the second night of a back-to-back, Westbrook should be fresh after resting against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening. 

Tip-off is at 9:30 p.m. ET at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Sportsbooks list the Rockets as 2.5-point road favorites, holding steady from the opener, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 222.5 in the latest Rockets vs. Thunder odds. Before you make any Rockets vs. Thunder picks or NBA predictions, see what SportsLine's advanced computer model has to say.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and last season it returned a whopping $4,280 on its top-rated NBA spread and money line picks. It's already returned almost $1,800 in profit on all its top-rated NBA picks during the 2019-20 season and entered Week 11 on a blistering 26-13 run on all top-rated NBA spread picks. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Rockets vs. Thunder on Thursday. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Now, here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Thunder vs. Rockets:

  • Rockets vs. Thunder spread: Rockets -2.5
  • Rockets vs. Thunder over-under: 222.5 points
  • Rockets vs. Thunder money line: Rockets -143, Thunder +120
  • HOU: The Rockets are 6-3 against the spread in the last nine games
  • OKC: The Thunder have covered the spread in seven straight games

Why the Thunder can cover

The model understands that the Thunder (21-16) are playing fantastic basketball in recent days. Oklahoma City has won 10 of the last 12 games and, at present, the Thunder are defying preseason expectations on the way to a strong position in the Western Conference pecking order. 

The Thunder rank in the top five in the league at creating free throw attempts offensively and Billy Donovan's team is also good at avoiding turnovers. Four players on Oklahoma City's roster average 16.6 points per game or more, with impressive offensive balance. On the other end, the Thunder are one of the better teams in the NBA at avoiding fouls, which could counteract a clear strength of both James Harden and the Rockets. 

Why the Rockets can cover

But OKC isn't a lock to cover the Rockets vs. Thunder spread. The model also knows that the Rockets (25-11) are the more talented team in this game, even with the caveat that Houston will face a raucous environment with a fired-up crowd. Led by Harden, Houston has an elite offense with a fantastic shot profile and, while the Thunder are solid on the defensive end, Oklahoma City isn't special in detracting opponents from scoring. 

Houston has a relative weakness with its defensive rebounding, but the Thunder rarely crash the offensive glass, ranking dead last in the NBA in offensive rebound rate. The Rockets also avoid fouling at an impressive rate, which could take away one of OKC's offensive strengths in generating free throw attempts. 

How to make Rockets vs. Thunder picks

SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, and it also says one side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations.

So who wins Rockets vs. Thunder? And which side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Thunder vs. Rockets spread you need to jump on Thursday, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks, and find out.  

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