Scottie Barnes has been putting it together down the stretch this season, and the Thunder’s undersized frontcourt gives him plenty of opportunity to pad his stats against poor shooting. Find out why our NBA picks are backing Barnes on the boards.
The Toronto Raptors continue to be a frustrating team to handicap on a game-in and game-out basis. Just when you think they’re heading toward extinction, they pull out an important win.
The Raptors entered their last game on a three-game losing streak where fourth-quarter collapses were becoming the norm. And it almost happened again against the Denver Nuggets, but thanks to an outstanding shooting performance from Fred VanVleet, the team settled down and secured the victory.
But Toronto will have to be sharp if it wanta to turn this into a winning streak when it welcomes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder to town on Thursday night.
The Thunder continue to show that their jump in development is real and enter this matchup winners of six of their last seven, straight up and against the spread.
Is the 6-point chalk giving the Raptors too much respect? I break down this matchup with a best bet in my NBA picks and predictions for Thunder vs. Raptors.
Thunder vs Raptors best odds
Thunder vs Raptors picks and predictions
If the Raptors want to start a winning streak tonight against the Thunder, they’ll have to play sound defense against a high-tempo Thunder team, make some shots, and take advantage of their edges in this matchup. Particularly on the boards.
While the Thunder are at the top of my NBA League Pass watch list this season, they still have some flaws. In general, they’re an undersized team that plays a lot of small-ball lineups. While this fits well with the offensive scheme, it hurts them when it comes to cleaning the glass. Oklahoma City ranks 26th in the NBA when it comes to rebounding rate.
But it’s more than just not being great rebounders. No one takes more shots per game in the NBA than OKC, while at the same time ranking 21st in effective field goal percentage. Because of that high-tempo offense, there are a lot of rebounds up for grabs in Thunder games. And the numbers play that out. OKC ranks dead last in the NBA in opponent rebounds per game.
In a matchup like this, a player like Scottie Barnes could be integral to the Raps’ success. It’s been an up-and-down season for the reigning Rookie of the Year, but he’s stringing together more consistent performances of late and should put in some good work on the glass here.
Barnes averages 7 rebounds per game this season, and while that number has seen a bit of a dip in the second half, he’s grabbed seven or more boards five times in his last nine games and in three of his last four overall.
Barnes matches up well against a team like the Thunder and should get plenty of run tonight, giving him ample opportunities to haul down seven or more rebounds once again.
My best bet: Scottie Barnes Over 6.5 rebounds (-135 at PointsBet)
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Thunder vs Raptors spread analysis
The script was looking all too familiar for the Raptors in Tuesday night’s game against the Nuggets. Toronto had built a 24-point lead but early in the fourth quarter that lead had all but dwindled to four points.
However, this time around, the team got some clutch shot-making from Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby to help build up that lead once again and help them secure that victory. But does that mean recent results should be overlooked and does it quantify the Raps as 6-point chalk in this matchup? I’m not so sure.
The Raptors actually opened this homecoming showdown for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as 5.5-point favorites. But the line has since been bumped to Toronto -6.5.
The fourth quarter collapses have been front and center. And they feel inevitable for a few reasons. One: The bench is contributing almost nothing to this team at the moment. And two: When teams tighten up in the fourth and the Raps have to rely more on shot-making, things don’t go so well.
Despite the improvements since the trade deadline, Toronto still struggles in the halfcourt. The Raps rank 28th in both 3-point shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage this season. And tonight, they face a Thunder team that ranks ninth in defensive rating for the season.
A Thunder team that is playing great basketball as well. Winners of three in a row and six of seven, covering the spread in all six wins. They can also take advantage of one of the Raps’ weaknesses: the perimeter. OKC takes the 11th-most threes per game and ranks 15th in 3-point shooting percentage.
I just don’t see how someone who watches the Raptors on a regular basis would feel comfortable laying a number like this in this matchup. I am strongly leaning towards OKC plus the points here.
Thunder vs Raptors Over/Under analysis
The total for this matchup hit the board at 230 and has been bumped up slightly to 231 as of Thursday afternoon.
OKC plays at the third-highest pace in the NBA and takes the most shots per game of anyone in the NBA. As a result, it ranks third in scoring at 117.9 points per game. Now, they face a Raptors team that is giving up 114.5 points per game and ranks 29th in opponent field goal percentage over their last four games.
Meanwhile, the Raptors tend to perform better at home. In the five home games they have played since the trade deadline, they rank seventh in offensive rating putting up a respectable 117.2 points per game. I would tend to agree with the early money here and lean Over.
Thunder vs Raptors betting trend to know
The Thunder are 9-5-1 ATS when getting between 5-and-7 points while the Raptors are 2-5 ATS when laying between 5-and-7 points. Find more NBA betting trends for Thunder vs. Raptors.
Thunder vs Raptors game info
|Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
|Thursday, March 16, 2023
|7:30 p.m. ET
|Bally Oklahoma, Sportsnet