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Philadelphia 76ers at Oklahoma City Thunder Game Preview and Prediction

The inter-conference foes will meet at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday when the Philadelphia 76ers  take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on their second road game before they head back home to Philly, while the hosts are looking to avoid the third straight defeat and the second in a row in front of their own crowd. Oklahoma City is a way better rival when it comes to the recent H2H duels as they beat Philadelphia in each of their last 14 games and are without a home loss since 2008, while the Thunder snatched a narrow victory in the opening game of this season series in Philadelphia, so the Sixers will be looking to get revenge here.

NBA: Thursday, February 28, 2019, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ET

 

Philadelphia 76ers edged the Pelicans on the road thanks to a strong performance in the first half

Philadelphia was on a two-game winning run before the Portland Trail Blazers prevented them from getting the third straight victory but the Sixers bounced back with a tight road win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The 76ers now improved to the 39-22 record and are currently sitting in the 4th position in the Eastern Conference with eight wins behind the conference leaders Milwaukee Bucks and six wins behind the Atlantic Division rivals Toronto Raptors. Philadelphia will most likely reach the playoffs and they are targeting a top-four finish and are battling with the Boston Celtics for the No. 4 spot which guarantees home-court advantage in the opening round.

Tobias Harris led the Sixers in a 111-110 win over the Pelicans with a double-double of 29 points and ten rebounds, along with a couple of blocks; J.J. Redick added 16 points and a pair of steals, Ben Simmons posted a double-double of 14 points and team-high 12 boards, BobanMarjanovic recorded a double-double of 12 points and ten rebounds with two rejections off the bench, while Jimmy Butler ended the tilt with 11 points, team-high seven assists, seven boards, and two thefts. Philadelphia was a better side in the opening 24 minutes and scored 65 points, allowing 52 in return but New Orleans improved in the second half and the visitors nearly dropped a victory after Jonathon Simmons missed a couple of free throws. E’Twaun Moore missed an opportunity to give the Pelicans a victory with a three-pointer but his shot wasn’t good and the 76ers got away with a close W.

Joel Embiid (sore left knee) will not play on Thursday against the Thunder as he has yet to be re-evaluated, but that is expected to happen in the coming days, so we could see Embiid back on the court soon. BobanMarjanovic had an MRI and CT scan which confirmed a bone bruise and mild sprain of his right knee and he will be re-evaluated in 5-7 days.

The 76ers have the top 5 offense in the NBA that averages 115.7 points per contest (5th), while their defense is 20th in the league as it allows 112.3 points per game. Philadelphia’s rebounding is in top 5 as they are recording 47.0 boards per game (5th), while they are even better when it comes to assists per contest with 27.3 dishes a night (3rd). Philadelphia is 7th in field goal percentage as they have 47.4 percent from the floor and 8th from downtown with 36.0 percentage, while they are 16th in the NBA with 11.1 three-pointers made per game.

Oklahoma City Thunder fell short to the Nuggets on the road

Oklahoma City’s four-game winning run snapped with a road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans and even though they responded with a double-overtime home victory over the Utah Jazz, the Thunder suffered two consecutive defeats to the Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets. The Thunder dropped to the 38-22 record and are in the 3rd place in the Western Conference with five wins behind the conference leaders Golden State Warriors and four wins behind the Northwest Division rivals Denver Nuggets. Oklahoma is eight wins ahead of the Sacramento Kings who are in the 9th position and missing out on the playoffs is not an option for the Thunder, but whether they will end the regular season in the top 4 in the conference remains to be seen.

Paul George led the Thunder in a 121-112 loss to the Nuggets with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and game-high six steals; Russell Westbrook posted a double-double of 22 points and game-high 14 boards, along with team-high nine dimes, Jerami Grant had 21 points, five rebounds, and a pair of blocks, while Dennis Schroder chipped in with 11 points, seven dishes, and five rebounds off the bench. Oklahoma City was a better team in the second half but they lost the second quarter by ten points, which turned out to be crucial in this game. They actually tied the game late in the fourth quarter but Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets managed to prevent a comeback, while the Thunder didn’t shot free throws well, missing nine of 25 attempts for 64 percent in opposite to Denver’s 26 on 35 attempts (74.3%).

The Thunder have the top 5 offense in the NBA that averages 115.9 points per contest (3rd), while their defense is the 14th as it allows 111.1 points per game. Oklahoma City’s rebounding is among the best in the NBA as they are recording 48.0 boards per game (2nd), while they are not that good when it comes to assists per contest with 23.5 dishes a night (20th). Oklahoma City is 16th in field goal percentage as they have 46.1 percent from the floor and 18th from downtown with 35.0 percentage, while they are 18th in the NBA with 11.0 three-pointers made per game.

Trends:

Philadelphia:

  • 7-15 ATS in their last 22 games played on the road vs. an opponent with a winning home record
  • 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall
  • 1-4 ATS in their last five after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
  • 1-4 ATS in their last five after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game

Oklahoma City:

  • 7-3 ATS in their last ten when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
  • 6-1 ATS in their last seven vs. Eastern Conference rivals
  • 4-0 ATS in their last four games playing on one day rest

The Winner Prediction

Oklahoma City won each of the previous 14 H2H encounters in one of the longest winning streaks currently in the NBA, while the Thunder were victorious in the past nine meetings at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The 76ers are 0-4 ATS in the last four duels and they are 1-5 ATS in the previous six meetings in Oklahoma City, and the fact is that the Thunder like to play again Philadelphia and I am backing them to beat them again. The visitors will be without a pair of big guys and I expect them to be leaky in the paint and that’s why I am going with the hosts in this one. The -7.5 spread could turn out to be a tricky one but I have confidence in Oklahoma to cover it as they will be highly motivated to avoid the third consecutive defeat.

The Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder -7.5 (-110)

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