Oklahoma City Thunder vs Philadelphia 76ers: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA

When: Saturday, January 19th, at 3:30 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): ABC | 97.5 The Fanatic, WWLS 98.1FM OKC

Oklahoma City Thunder (Away)

Head Coach: Billy Donovan {All-Time 176-113 | OKC}

The Oklahoma City Thunder are as dangerous as ever. With a record of 26-17, the Thunder sit third in the Western Conference. However with he Rockets and Trail Blazers recent success, they are a couple losses away from tumbling down the table.

The Thunder have faced some adversity as of late, going 5-5 in their last ten matches. After a three-game win streak beginning on New Year’s Eve, they’ve gone 1-4 with losses to the Wizards, Timberwolves, and Hawks. The Thunder should be dispatching such teams, so a realignment of focus is sure to come for the Thunder.

Against the Sixers the Thunder are going against a team with top talents on the wing and on the inside. Ben Simmons is a tremendous playmaker that is difficult to stop, Jimmy Butler is a rugged defender and isolation scorer, while Joel Embiid is making his case as the best center in the league. The Thunder complement will have their hands full taking care of them.

Philadelphia 76ers (Home)

Head Coach: Brett Brown {All-Time 156-299 | PHI}

The Philadelphia 76ers are on the rise again and prepared to take their place back from the Indiana Pacers. With a record of 29-16, the Sixers are just a game back from a tie with the Pacers for third in the East.

The Sixers have played some inspired basketball as of late. In a home match against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Sixers enjoyed a 42-point blowout win over Jimmy Butler’s former team.

They will likely not have such an easy out against the Thunder though. Rife with superstars and a centre that is making a name for himself as one of the best in the league, the Oklahoma City Thunder will surely meet the Sixers challenge. If the Sixers can navigate the Thunder defence and convert open shots, they should be able to make a game of it against the Thunder.

What’s At Stake?

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers have met only a few times in their history. In that time the Thunder have absolutely dominated the matchup, leading the Sixers in the all-time series 18-1.

A win for the Thunder would stave off the oncoming Rockets and Trail Blazers to keep their hold on third in the West.

a win for the Sixers would bring them to within half a game of the Indiana Pacers who are in third in the Eastern Conference.

Questions to answer

Can the Thunder find their shooting touch?

Can the Sixers keep up their hot shooting?

We are going to compare the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Thunder are Last in Three-Point Percentage

The Oklahoma City Thunder are not a team that you would consider dead eye shooters. Of their roster, only three players – Abdel Nader, Paul George, Terrance Ferguson – maintain a three-point shooting percentage at or higher than the league average.

The fact that the Thunder are driven by individual brilliance is no secret. Russell Westbrook and Paul George run the show while others make plays off the ball to be effective outlets. But against the Sixers and Joel Embiid, they’ll find it difficult to score inside at all times, so shooting is a must.

Many have been critical of Russell Westbrook for increasing his three-point volume while trailing and letting it subside when they are leading. He is an MVP-calibre player but his decision making must be on point if the Thunder hope to pull one out against the red-hot Sixers.

The Sixers Couldn’t Miss in their Last Game

It is ridiculous to assume the Sixers will shoot as well as they did in their last match against the Timberwolves. 60% from the field and 49% from three is impressive as a fluke let alone as consistent play. However there was something in their ball-movement that showed promise.

The Sixers are really getting to know each other. Jimmy Butler has come into his own with the Sixers, opting for more efficient play predicated on movement off the ball. Ben Simmons has also continued to play within his limits, that being three feet from the basket, to the success of the Sixers. As two of their stars have bought in so easily, regular contributions from their bench is a sure bonus.

The Sixers should still worry about the Sixers diverse defence. They are athletic at every position and are unafraid to switch at a moments notice. While the Sixers capable of exploiting matchups, they should be wary of ill-advised shots that will spark the Thunder fast-break.

Oklahoma City Thunder Roster Notes

G Alex Abrines – Out (Personal) – Head coach Billy Donovan said he does not have any timetable for Abrines’ return, according to Brett Dawson of The Athletic.

C Nerlens Noel – Out (Concussion) – Noel is in concussion protocol and there is not yet a timetable for his return.

G-F Andre Roberson – Out (Knee) – Roberson suffered a setback in his recovery and will be re-evaluated in six weeks, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

Philadelphia 76ers Roster Notes

G Markelle Fultz – Out (Shoulder/Wrist) – Fultz is progressing well in rehab and expects to return this season according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

C Justin Patton – Out (Foot) – Patton could return in early February according to head coach Brett Brown.

G Zhaire Smith – Out (Foot) – Smith has been working out every morning and is expected to play this season according to Kyle Neubeck.

Head-to-Head: Steven Adams vs Joel Embiid

Steven Adams

Center | 7-0, 265lb (213cm, 120kg) | Pittsburgh | Exp. 5 Years

15.4 PPG | 1.7 APG | 10.1 RPG | 1.5 SPG | 0.8 BPG | 1.5 TOV | 601. FG% | .000 3P%

Joel Embiid

Center | 7-0, 250lb (213cm, 113kg) | Kansas | Exp. 3 Years

27.0 PPG | 3.4 APG | 11.0 RPG | 0.5 SPG | 2.0 BPG | 3.5 TOV | .488 FG% | .311 3P%

This matchup is between two of the NBA’s strongest men, in both muscle and personality. Cameroonian Joel Embiid and New Zealander Steven Adams both contribute greatly to their team in very different ways. One is the quintessential big man scorer and the other a bruising enforcer, it will be a physical matchup between these two.

Steven Adams is the center that most NBA coaches dream of having on their roster. He’s the perfect fit for the modern NBA game while not compromising on his physical attributes. He’s regularly a threat on the inside due to his sheer size but is also an excellent team player, making great passes out of screens and backing up his line on defence.

Joel Embiid is coming off of a monster game against the Minnesota Timberwolves where he posted 31 points and 13 rebounds. Karl-Anthony Towns though, is not the defensive presence that Steven Adams is. Embiid will have a tough night going one-on-one against the Kiwi, so don’t be surprised to see the big man look to play more off of screen and rolls and transition play.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Philadelphia 76ers Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Philadelphia 76ers favoured over the Oklahoma City Thunder by 2.5, with an over/under of 110.