Don’t look now, but that scrappy Oklahoma City Thunder team that was just a fun story has won eight of its last 10 games, and now sit in eighth place in the Western Conference standings. They are also just two games out of fourth.
On top of that, they’ll go for their second straight win over the fifth-place Los Angeles Clippers after gutting out a 101-100 victory in a back-and-forth affair that came down to the final possession on Tuesday.
After being 6.5-point underdogs in that matchup, the Thunder are getting a little more respect this time around, as they are just four-point pups. Can OKC pull off the upset once again, or will L.A. exact some revenge?
I break down this Western Conference matchup and bring you my best bet in my NBA picks and predictions for Thunder vs. Clippers.
Thunder vs Clippers best odds
Thunder vs Clippers picks and predictions
If you are someone living outside of Oklahoma City and predicted this season for the Thunder, I think I’m going to have to call you a liar. Most expected the Thunder to continue their multi-season tank with the goal of improving the value of their seemingly endless supply of first-round picks.
But the breakout of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the quick development of his young teammates like Josh Giddey has the Thunder ahead of schedule. And now they look like a team that could be a hard out in the playoffs.
That said, the Thunder still have their flaws. Most notably, on the boards. By makeup, OKC is an undersized team that plays a lot of small-ball lineups. And that may be beneficial for the Thunder’s offensive system, but it also means they rank 26th in rebounding rate.
But it’s not just that the Thunder are small. It’s that there are also just a lot of rebounds up for grabs in their games. That’s because the Thunder take the most shots per game in the NBA, but rank a subpar 23rd in effective field goal percentage. So it’s no surprise the team ranks dead-last in opponent rebounds per game.
That means I’m homing in on Russell Westbrook and his rebounding prop. The former Thunder guard is averaging 5.4 rebounds per game as a member of the Clippers, but he is getting back to his glass-cleaning ways in the last few games.
Westbrook has hauled in eight or more rebounds in three of his last four games, including grabbing eight in that Tuesday meeting against the Thunder. And with no Paul George and Norm Powell, Westbrook could be called on to put even more work in on the glass.
I’m betting Westbrook shows his rebounding prowess in this one and taking the Over on his boards prop.
My best bet: Westbrook Over 6.5 rebounds (-105 at DraftKings)
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Thunder vs Clippers spread analysis
The Thunder opened at +3 just one game after they were 6.5-point road underdogs against the Clippers, before getting bumped to +4. There are a few reasons for that.
For starters, the Thunder won that game in what was a 101-100 defensive battle. They continue to be a strong defensive team that now ranks 10th in efficiency. They also held the Clippers to an ugly 6-of-31 (19%) shooting from 3-point range in that game.
They have the defense to put on the same kind of performance, and that gets to the second point. I don’t see the Clippers’ offense getting better without Paul George this time around. George put up 18 points but is dealing with a knee injury and will sit this one out.
The Thunder have been beasts when it comes to covering spreads this year. OKC is an NBA-best 43-26-1 ATS, and is an impressive 19-8-3 ATS when they are road underdogs.
On the Clippers' end, they continue to be one of the most frustrating teams in the NBA. When things are rolling right for them, they are a contender to win the Western Conference. L.A. seems to trade off winning and losing streaks too often. The Clippers recently had a five-game losing streak, but followed that up with four wins in a row, and enter this one having lost two of the last three.
Part of the problem for L.A. has been shooting. The Clippers haven’t been able to get their offense in rhythm. They rank 18th in offensive rating and 22nd in effective field goal percentage since the All-Star break.
It doesn’t help that they seem to be rotating injuries. Norm Powell is still out, and now George is sidelined for the next couple of weeks.
But the Clippers have the ability to shut down the Thunder’s offense, and they probably won’t shoot 19% from 3-point range again. However, that’s not enough to back them here. It’s not an official play, but I would lean toward taking the points with OKC.
Thunder vs Clippers Over/Under analysis
The total for this Western Conference showdown has hit the board at a high 232, and that’s where it sits as of Thursday afternoon. I can tell you right now that feels a little high.
These two teams have played three tight matchups this season. All three would have fallen Under this number, and saw an average of 210.3 points per game.
That’s due to a lot of the reasons mentioned above. Both the Thunder and Clippers aren’t overly-efficient shooting teams. And like I said, I don’t think the Clippers become a better shooting team without PG-13. On top of that, they rank third and 11th, respectively, when it comes to defensive rating after the All-Star break.
While the Thunder play a high-tempo brand of basketball, the Clippers do an excellent job of slowing the game down and forcing you to play at their pace. I’m leaning Under here.
Thunder vs Clippers betting trend to know
The Under is 5-2 in the Thunder's last seven games. Find more NBA betting trends for Thunder vs. Clippers.
Thunder vs Clippers game info
|Location:||Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA|
|Date:||Thursday, March 23, 2023|
|Tip-off:||10:30 p.m. ET|