The Los Angeles Clippers host the Oklahoma City Thunder in NBA action on Tuesday night.
With just 10 games left in the regular season, both teams are jockeying for playoff positioning in a wide-open Western Conference. NBA betting lines opened with the Clippers as 6.5-point home favorites and the Over/Under at 237.5 for this pivotal clash.
Here are my best free Thunder vs. Clippers NBA picks and predictions for March 21.
Thunder vs Clippers best odds
Thunder vs Clippers picks and predictions
The Clippers have been playing well recently, but so have the Thunder who've gone 7-2 straight up and against the spread in their last nine games.
This is a young team and one that was expected to finish near the bottom of the standings especially after losing highly-regarded rookie Chet Holmgren for the entire season. Instead, OKC has been a scrappy team, fighting for a playoff spot and sitting 14th in the league in offensive rating while ranking 10th on defense.
The Thunder have embraced a small-ball lineup this season, especially in recent weeks with 6-foot-9 rookie Jaylin Williams starting at 5. While that can be an issue against bigger squads that can punish them inside, the Clips are the sort of team that will likely match up with smaller looks themselves.
Although the duo of Paul George (23.9 points and 5.1 assists per game) and Kawhi Leonard (23.8 ppg) is tough for any team to deal with, OKC is better equipped than most to slow them down. The Thunder boast one of the league's best wing defenders in Luguentz Dort while rookie Jalen Williams (not to be confused with Jaylin) has also been an excellent perimeter defender.
One of the L.A.'s weaknesses this season has been its tendency to turn the ball over and that's been magnified since trading for Russell Westbrook at the deadline. The Clips are 25th in the league in points allowed off turnovers (18.2 ppg) and 22nd in points allowed on the fastbreak (14.6 ppg).
The Thunder are second in the league in both opponent turnover rate (16.1%) and points off turnovers (20.7 ppg). With the Thunder having the ability to run the floor in transition and make the Clips pay on the other end of the floor, take them with the points.
My best bet: Thunder +7 (-110 at bet365)
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Thunder vs Clippers spread analysis
The Clippers are in fifth place in the Western Conference standings with a 38-34 mark while the Thunder are tied for ninth at 35-36. Remarkably, just four games separate the fourth-place Suns from the 12th-place Pelicans, which makes every game until the end of the season crucial.
The Thunder are coming off a 124-120 win against Phoenix and have won seven of their last nine games. The Clippers have won five of their previous six (going 4-2 ATS during that span) and most recently defeated the Blazers 117-102 on the road on Sunday.
These teams previously clashed twice this season and while the Thunder won both contests, they did so at home all the way back in October when the Clips were missing Leonard. L.A. has been a completely different team when Kawhi suits up, boasting a 28-15 record when the two-time NBA Finals MVP plays and going just 10-19 in his absence.
With Leonard and George in the lineup, the Clips have two of the best two-way players in the league; a pair of elite wings that can create their own shot, facilitate for others, and lock down opponents.
There's a steep offensive decline after those two, especially with Norman Powell sidelined by a shoulder injury. The addition of Westbrook has produced mixed results and while he's racking up assists lately, he continues to shoot poorly and turn the ball over.
The Thunder have a guard-focused lineup led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31.4 ppg on 51/35/90 shooting splits) with Josh Giddey stuffing the stat sheet with 16.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, and 6.1 apg.
Thunder vs Clippers Over/Under analysis
I mentioned how much better the Clips are with Leonard, and despite how great he is as a defender, his biggest impact has come on offense. The Clips have averaged just 108 ppg without Leonard with that number jumping all the way to 116.1 ppg when he plays.
On the other end of the floor, the difference has been less stark, with the Clips giving up 113.6 ppg without their superstar wing and tightening up to 111.9 ppg when he plays.
The Clippers are just 24th in the NBA in pace but have upped that tempo with Westbrook running the point. Meanwhile, the Thunder love to push the tempo and rank second in the league in pace.
However, the total of 238.5 still looks a tad too high when you consider the strong wing defenders on both squads and the playoff-type intensity we could see from these teams down the stretch.
Thunder vs Clippers betting trend to know
The Thunder are 9-4-3 ATS in their last 16 road games. Find more NBA betting trends for Thunder vs. Clippers.
Thunder vs Clippers game info
|Location:||Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA|
|Date:||Tuesday, March 21, 2023|
|Tip-off:||10:30 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports SoCal|