Thunder vs Cavaliers Picks and Predictions: Cleveland Puts OKC In Its Place

It's a showdown between two of the NBA's best ATS teams as OKC visits Cleveland. But one of these teams is actually good, while the other just catches opponents sleeping. Don't count on that happening tonight, as our Thunder vs. Cavaliers picks explain.

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2022 11:25 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Darius Garland Cleveland Cavaliers NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Two of the NBA's best squads against the spread face off Saturday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

But while both these sides excel ATS, there's still a huge disparity between them talent-wise, and the books are spotting OKC a dozen points for this matchup. 

Find out if the underdogs can strike another foe down with our NBA picks and predictions for Thunder vs. Cavaliers on Saturday, January 22.

Thunder vs Cavaliers odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

Cleveland opened as a 12.5-point favorite, where the line mostly remains as of Saturday morning, with some books moving to -12. The total opened at 209.5 and has been bet down to 209 in most spots.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Thunder vs Cavaliers predictions

Predictions made on 1/22/2022 at 10:05 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Thunder vs Cavaliers game info

Location: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH
Date: Saturday, January 22, 2022
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET

Thunder vs Cavaliers betting preview


Thunder: No injuries to report.
Cavaliers: Collin Sexton PG (Out), Ricky Rubio PG (Out), Rajon Rondo PG (Out). 
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

Cavaliers are 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Thunder vs. Cavaliers.

Thunder vs Cavaliers picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

This matchup pits two of the NBA's three best ATS teams against each other, though the contrast between them is startling. 

The Cavaliers are arguably the surprise of the season thus far — projected as lottery fodder preseason, they've fought through throngs of injuries to look like legit contenders for a Top-4 seed in the East. 

Meanwhile, the Thunder are an utter anomaly, openly tanking but still regularly keeping games within the huge spreads their G-League-esque roster affords them.

Despite their scrappy chops, this is just a terrible matchup for OKC who will be taking the NBA's worst-rated offense up against Cleveland's No. 3-ranked defense. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a killer, but it will be tougher for his unorthodox, herky-jerky hesitations to yield much space against a team with so much length that defends the mid-range with discipline. 

Likewise, it will be difficult for OKC to exert any kind of competency on the glass, with undersized Jeremiah Robinson-Earl moonlighting as a center. All three of Cleveland's frontcourt starters are taller, and the Thunder's 24th-ranked rebounding rate is a very poor indicator. 

As Cleveland smothers OKC, it'll be led on the other end by Darius Garland, who's absolutely on one right now and making it very difficult for voters to leave him off the East All-Star team. Garland's playing the best basketball of his life, averaging a clean 20/10 in January and 25.3/12.5 over his past four games. Counting on the MIP odds candidate to excel again here seems like a safe bet.

While most teams fail to take the Thunder seriously enough, the Cavs are exactly the type of unit that will show up for this game. They've had nothing given to them this season and show amazing consistency for such a young squad with little experience together. 

They match up well in this contest and have covered in 70% of their home games. Don't fear the spread and back the Cavs here. 

Prediction: Cleveland -12 (-110)

This is a measly total but it's also one that honestly couldn't be set low enough. 

The Thunder are dead last in the NBA in scoring at 100.6 ppg, and against a team as tough as the Cavs on D, you can reasonably expect them to put up less tonight.

OKC's attack will be severely challenged on every possession, and the clock will be steadily bled as a result while it hunts scarce quality looks. Also ranking last in true shooting percentage, we can't count on the Thunder to convert said looks, even if they do present themselves. 

Apart from putting OKC in hell on defense, the Cavs can contribute to an Under themselves, playing at a bottom-third pace and only averaging 107.5 ppg. Cleveland thrives in non-shootouts and averages the league's fewest fouls per game, meaning fewer points at the charity stripe with the clock stopped.

These two produced 209 points when they met a week ago, and it's very tough to see them topping that output. 

Prediction: Under 209 (-110)

With a spread this big, we always run the risk of a weird backdoor cover in the waning moments of a game whose straight-up outcome has long been decided. The Thunder have made great use of that notion, as their first-half ATS results don't correlate.

Despite being 28-16-1 ATS on the season, OKC is just 21-24 against first-half spreads, good for a -10.25% ROI. 

Meanwhile, Cleveland crushes first-half spreads — 32-14 on the season. That's the best mark in the league, representing a 33.15% ROI. 

The Thunder were run out of the gym by the high-octane Hornets last night, while the Cavs haven't played since Wednesday. Take the garbage time out of the equation and hammer the more talented team with fresher legs to do what it does better than any team in the NBA. 

Pick: Cleveland 1H -7 (-115)

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