Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers Preview (1/12/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

After a devastating loss to Miami, the Oklahoma City Thunder (18-23) travel to face the Philadelphia 76ers (25-15). Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Ousmane Dieng are once again out, while the 76ers have no player listed on the injury report.

Can the Thunder avenge their earlier 115-96 loss to the 76ers? Odds, predictions, key matchups, and starting lineups are below.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers Betting Odds

Philadelphia enters this contest as a heavy favorite. The spread is -9.5 76ers with their moneyline at an unplayable -400. For Oklahoma City’s +350 moneyline to be profitable long-term, they must win at least 23% of the time here. The 233 over under is one of the larger totals for Thursday games.

The Thunder are coming off an ATS win, and their success following such an occasion is impressive. In their last 71 games following an ATS win, they are 46-22-3 ATS (67%). However, Oklahoma City is 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings versus Philadelphia.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers Prediction

I’m taking the Thunder to cover +9.5.

Oklahoma City ranks 3rd in transition frequency and 3rd in pace. They play fast, loose, and aggressive to the point of recklessness occasionally. Because injuries have forced them to roll out a smaller lineup recently, their desire and ability to increase game speed has only become easier.

This style encounters a drastically different 76ers team. Philadelphia is 25th in pace and 22nd in ShotQuality transition defense. Given the Thunder’s knack for forcing turnovers and creating chaos, they may be able to wreak havoc in transition.

On a more granular level, the Thunder are 2nd in finishing at the rim frequency and 4th in Open 3 Rate (per ShotQuality). Gilgeous-Alexander quite literally drives these figures to fruition, and Philadelphia is ill-prepared to stop it. The 76ers rank 21st defending finishes at the rim and 28th in opponent Open 3 Rate. Shai, Jalen, and Dort likely bully Philadelphia on drives, and they can scorch them from three if their players convert, which hasn’t been a problem over the past 20-30 games.

I’m not too worried about Oklahoma City’s offense, but their defense will be the difference between them covering or not. James Harden is thriving as a scorer and screen manipulator, but he often relies on his size and strength versus guards. Luguentz Dort is built like a truck and remains one of the best screen navigators in the NBA, so Harden won’t find anything easy. Dort actually first rose to fame by brilliantly defending Harden during the 2020 Playoffs as a rookie.

Gilgeous-Alexander possesses the length and instincts to hold his own against Maxey, and I expect the Thunder to smother Harris with Jalen Williams. That would leave Giddey – probably their weakest starting defender – in the corner simply watching PJ Tucker.

Now, the elephant in the room is Joel Embiid (33.6 PPG). Kenrich, Muscala, or Omoruyi won’t be able to bother him in the slightest, but they likely send double team after double team. Oklahoma City managed to hold Embiid to 16 points on 6/17 shooting, yet the constant help allowed him to rack up 10 assists.

Overall, a cover will hinge on how effective they are at limiting Embiid’s 1v1 opportunities while seamlessly rotating to the subsequent open 76er. I expect Philadelphia to win, but +9.5 is just too many points to give the Thunder (I would take 76ers -7.5 at the most).

Betting Trends

  • Thunder are 46-22-3 ATS in their last 71 games following an ATS win
  • Over is 38-17 in Thunder’s last 55 games following an ATS win
  • 76ers are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 home games
  • Thunder are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings
  • Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings

Key Matchups

Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Free Throws

Embiid and Harden are notorious for racking up free throws. The duo combined for 20.7 FTA per game last season, and they are at 18.3 this season. Oklahoma City’s defensive aggression has led them to be 29th in opponent free throw rate. If the Thunder continue to foul versus the 76ers, then their cover chances significantly decrease. Gilgeous-Alexander (1st in made free throws) throwing a counterpunch would be a massive help for Oklahoma City.

Three-Point Shooting

The Thunder own a 37.4 3PT% in their last 30 games, and that absolutely must continue for them to cover. Dort and Mann will swing this for Oklahoma City; they rank 1st and 2nd in 3PA, but both are wildly inconsistent from game to game. If both convert their attempts, then the Thunder have a great chance of covering.

Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup

PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SG: Luguentz Dort
SF: Josh Giddey
PF: Jalen Williams
C: Mike Muscala

Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup

PG: James Harden
SG: Tyrese Maxey
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: PJ Tucker
C: Joel Embiid

Key Injuries

Oklahoma City Thunder Injuries: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (O), Aleksej Pokusevski (O), Ousmane Dieng (O), Chet Holmgren (O)

Philadelphia 76ers Injuries:

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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