Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets: Predictions, Starting Lineups (12/29/23)

The Oklahoma City Thunder (20-9) battle the Denver Nuggets (23-10) this Friday (12/29/23). Get Thunder vs. Nuggets moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction

These teams combine to average 60.5 points per game during the first quarter (via NBA.com), and they each have the tools to shred the opposing defense.

Oklahoma City allows the sixth most open plus wide open three-point attempts per 100 possessions, as well as the second largest catch-and-shoot three-point frequency. Their tendency to over-help inside is a driving force behind their woes, but they cannot be blamed for this strategy against reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic.

The Thunder will often be forced to sag or even collapse inside, and Denver possesses the shooters to capitalize. Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all clearing 39 percent from deep, while Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Justin Holiday, and Peyton Watson can knock down outside shots too.

Essentially, Denver’s offense features an unstoppable interior scorer surrounded by a plethora of elite shooters. Although Oklahoma City has been stellar defensively this season, Denver’s offense is capable of exploiting their three-point flaws.

Meanwhile, Denver boasts an elite three-point defense but struggles to keep teams out of the paint. Opponents average the ninth most field goal attempts within eight feet of the basket against them, as well as the fourth most attempts from eight to sixteen feet of the basket.

Oklahoma City leads the league in drives per game, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams should get to their spots here. Plus, Holmgren’s mobility, length, and off-the-dribble scoring will be a problem for Nikola Jokic. Factor in OKC’s exceptional three-point shooting (38.8 3PT%), and the offense can continue their recent reign of terror.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction: 1st Quarter Total Over 57.5 Points (-118 FD)

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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets Best Odds

The Nuggets are slight 2.5 point favorites in this matchup. Denver is 15-17-1 against the spread, while the Thunder lead the NBA with a 20-8-1 ATS record. Oklahoma City needs to prevail about 45 percent of the time for their +120 moneyline to be profitable in the long run.

Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup

PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SG: Lu Dort
SF: Josh Giddey
PF: Jalen Williams
C: Chet Holmgren

Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Peyton Watson
PF: Michael Porter Jr
C: Nikola Jokic

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets Injuries

Nuggets forwards Aaron Gordon (13.6 PPG) and Vlatko Cancar will miss the contest, while Michael Porter Jr is questionable. The Thunder may be without Jaylin Williams due to a hip injury. If he cannot suit up, then reserve center Olivier Sarr likely sees minutes.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets Key Matchups

Nuggets Offensive Rebounding

The Thunder rank 29th in both opponent offensive rebound rate and opponent put-back frequency. Defending the glass has been a major issue for Oklahoma City, which doesn’t bode well for them here. Denver owns the third largest put-back frequency and sits eighth in offensive rebound rate. Although Aaron Gordon’s injury hurts their overall rebounding potential, Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr can still control the boards. If Denver snags a ton of offensive rebounds, then it inflates their point total due to the subsequent extra shot attempts.

Jalen Williams Hot Streak

Over his past three games, Williams has averaged 28.3 points on a 68.9 FG% and 68.8 3PT%. He cannot miss at the moment, and it’s clear that he learned from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s off-the-dribble arsenal. If Williams continues to pour in points, then it will be extremely difficult for Denver to stop all of Oklahoma City’s threats (Gilgeous-Alexander, Holmgren, etc.).

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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