- The Oklahoma City Thunder own the best record against the spread in the NBA so far this season
- New Orleans is trying to mount a run for the 8 seed buoyed by the return of Zion Williamson
- Get the odds, our pick, and all the info you need to bet the game below
The Oklahoma City Thunder can pull even with the Dallas Mavericks for the sixth seed in the Western Conference if they get the better of the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night.
The latest Thunder vs Pelicans odds favor the Pels by two-and-a-hook, as the Pelicans are riding a three-game winning streak after beating the Portland Trail Blazers emphatically on Tuesday night.
The win over Portland could prove to be an invaluable tiebreaker for the eighth seed, but New Orleans desperately need a victory over the Thunder to go into the All-Star break on a high.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs New Orleans Pelicans Odds
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+2.5 (-110)||+120||Ov 231.5 (-105)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||-2.5 (-110)||-140||Un 231.5 (-115)|
Odds taken Feb. 13th.
Thunder Dominated Previous Meetings
Oklahoma City have won all three of the previous meetings between the teams this season. They were all played between November 2nd and December 1st, however, when this Pels team was struggling. New Orleans, aided by the arrival of Zion Williamson, have gone 15-8 since beating the Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day and are currently 10th in the West, five games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the eight seed.
The Pels have been the 14th best defense in the NBA over the last 15 games, a marked improvement on their early season performances. Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball are an impressive defensive backcourt – they face a tough task against Chris Paul, Dennis Schroeder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Paul wasn’t posting huge lines in the three previous games, but he picked his way through the Pelicans defense, finding passes to Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari. The veteran All-Star registered a plus-minus of 9.3. His contest with Ball and Holiday is going to be crucial.
On the back of his first 30-point game of his NBA career, Williamson is going from strength to strength. He has a net rating of 15.2 and is riding a five-game streak of scoring 20 points or more. His effective field goal percentage is a shade below 60%.
Portland didn’t have anyone with the strength to go body-to-body with Williamson in the paint. Adams is one of the strongest players in the league, and will likely be tasked with keeping Williamson away from the bucket. How effective he will be is uncertain, and the Australian center will be unable to keep up on the fast breaks that have quickly become a trademark of this Pels offense. The Ball to Williamson outlet pass is unstoppable.
After registering 14 free throw attempts against the Blazers (which he also managed against Milwaukee), foul trouble could be an issue for Adams, or whoever is left with the Williamson assignment, too.
The first overall pick is living up to the hype. The Thunder have been one of the better teams in the league at defending shots inside six feet – this is one of their sternest tests of the year in the paint.
Thunder Worth Backing?
The Pelicans have been ordinary at home this year, going 11-16. The Thunder are one of the best road teams in the league, owning a 15-10 record. Consecutive losses have halted momentum for the visitors, but they have been superb all season long. In Adams, they might be able to slow Williamson down.
Brandon Ingram is questionable for Thursday’s matchup and while they’ve won their last two without him, the Pels could miss his length and shooting.
The circumstances and personnel might have been different in the three losses earlier in the season, but they’re hard to ignore. The Thunder look a good price to end their two-game losing slide.
Pick: Thunder Moneyline (+120)
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