Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Phoenix Suns – NBA, April 2, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| April 2, 2021 9:31 am PDT

Third from bottom meets second from the top in this All-Western Conference basketball matchup.

The Thunder will still hope they can make one of the pre-playoff positions, but time is beginning to run out to take one of those spots. The Suns are trying to chase down the Jazz in the pursuit of winning the Western Conference, but Utah is relentless right now, and that take is becoming harder by the day.

Although the Thunder are coming up against a team that has done much better than them this season, they have beaten the Suns on nine of the last ten occasions. The last of those wins was at the back end of January and will still be fresh in both teams’ minds.

That win for Oklahoma came despite them trailing by 15-points after the first quarter. They soon got their act together and took a three-point lead into halftime. The Suns will be after revenge tonight, but it won’t be easy as they have only beaten them once in Phoenix’s last six attempts.

Oklahoma has averaged nine points more per game in their last ten meetings with the Suns, which confirms their superiority. They seem to fast start against them, too, as they have averaged five more first-half points than them.

Here are the game odds, my team analysis, and betting prediction.

Thunder vs. Suns Odds

Thunder +12.5-110
Suns -12.5-110
Thunder To Win+650
Suns To Win-900
Over 219.5 Points-110
Under 219.5 Points-110

I knew the Suns would be clear favorites for this game, but I didn’t think it would be overwhelming, given their struggles against the Thunder. The points total looks a little on the low side and can be an avenue to explore further.

The Thunder have a good record of 10-4 against the spread when playing on the road against Western Conference opponents.

Thunder News

The Thunder ended a run of three straight defeats by beating the Raptors last time out. They started the game reasonably slow and trailed by eight at halftime. However, a different Thunder turned up in the second half, and they went on to win by ten points. The last time they picked up a win, they followed it up with another, and they will be hoping to repeat that tonight. However, on that occasion, they faced the struggling Timberwolves, who are not in the same league as the Suns this season.

They have been decent on the road this season, and a win tonight would get them back on an even keel as they have won 11 and lost 12 of their 23 Road trips. The Thunder have won their previous two away games, and they haven’t won three matches on the road since the beginning of the year. That night they beat another good team in the form of the Brooklyn Nets. Here they are getting ready to embark on another away-day adventure.

Latest Betting Trends for Oklahoma City
Bet Type Trend
ATS They have only lost one of their previous seven games against the Suns.
Total Seven of their last eight road trips have seen the total go under.
ATS The Thunder have won on five of their previous six visits to Phoenix.
Total Only one of their last six matches against Western Conference opponents has failed to go over the betting total.
SU They have only won one of their previous eight games against teams based in the Pacific Division.
SU Oklahoma has lost four of their last five matches played in April.

All the above information tells us is how inconsistent the Thunder are this season.

The Thunder have a feeble attack this season that would barely be heard in a library at times this season.

Their shooting hasn’t particularly been good, especially from the free-throw line, where they have a success rate of only 73%.

They haven’t rebounded well in attack either, which, combined with their poor shooting, is the reason why they aren’t troubling the scoreboard too often. However, their defensive rebound is much better and is amongst the best in the league. This suggests they certainly can rebound better in attack but perhaps aren’t set up well enough to do so. They tend to drive the ball to the basket more often than not, which is why they don’t make many rebounds or assists, for that matter.

Their defense has been better but is still sub-standard. They press the ball well, which they will undoubtedly need to do against a team as accurate as the Suns.

Oklahoma is well disciplined, which could be their key to victory tonight as they could spend significant periods of the game without the ball and will need to stay focused.

They have defended much better on the road this season, conceding four fewer points per game on average. Oklahoma doesn’t appear to play any differently in away fixtures, but their style of play seems to be better suited on the road.

The Thunder have arguably the longest list of absentees currently, which certainly isn’t helping their season. They will miss Horford, Muscala, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome, Bazley, and Dort. Pokusevski is also a doubt having been placed into quarantine recently.

Suns News

The Suns head into this game on the back of four wins in a row. They have only lost one of their previous eight matches, which came against another side towards the bottom, the Orlando Magic. The Suns shooting failed on that night, but they still only narrowly lost by a single point. This highlights that even when they have an off night, they are still competitive.

They have an excellent record at home, having won 17 and lost eight of their 25 matches played in Phoenix. The Suns have won their previous four home fixtures and will be confident making it five in a row tonight. However, the last team to beat them at home was the Timberwolves, another team struggling this season. This does beg the question, are the Suns taking these teams too lightly?

Latest Betting Trends for Phoenix
Bet Type Trend
ATS Phoenix is 14-6 in their previous 20 matches.
Total Four of their last six games against the Thunder have gone under the betting total.
SU They have only lost three of their previous 16 matches.
ATS The Suns have only failed to win one of their last 11 games against teams from the west coast.
Total Seven of their previous eight games played in April have gone over the points total.
Total Only one of their last five matches played on a Friday has failed to go under the betting total.

This confirms the excellent form of the Suns and what a problematic night it could be for Oklahoma.

The Suns have a good offense that is very accurate at shooting. They have a field goal percentage of 48%, which is the third-highest in the league this season. Phoenix is also ranked third from the free-throw line, so it doesn’t matter what kind of pressure they are under; they can shoot.

The area they need to improve on is their offensive rebounding. Given how well the Thunder rebound defensively, they are likely to lose this battle tonight.

However, they can certainly pass the ball much better than the Thunder, and given how slack Oklahoma can be at marking, they could make a lot of easy shots tonight. Chris Paul has been at the heart of this superb passing game, and he is the one that makes the Suns tick.

Their biggest weapon is their defense which has been brilliant throughout the season. At times it’s almost as if they have six players on the court as they seem to be marking tightly everywhere.

However, for a team that covers their opponents so well, they don’t make many steals. Given they aren’t particularly rebounding great either, this could become a problem for them as they could start to see less and less of the ball. They aren’t making many blocks either, as they have the third-lowest count in the NBA this season.

Thunder vs. Suns Pick

I think the Suns could outwork the Thunder tonight on their way to victory. This is a tricky game to call, and I will go with my gut this evening which is unusual for me being a statistician. The Suns will win, there is no doubt in my mind about that, but I am unsure if they can cover the spread.

Although both teams have been inconsistent scorers, I still believe the points total looks low. I will take over the points total as my pick to place at the online bookies.

Pick
  • Under 228.5 Points
    -110

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