Toronto Raptors vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

What: Toronto Raptors at Oklahoma City Thunder

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK

When: Wednesday, March 20th at 9:30 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): ESPN, SN1, Fox Sports Oklahoma | TSN Radio 1050 Toronto, WWLS 98.1FM OKC / 930AM (ESP)

Toronto Raptors (Away)

Head Coach: Nick Nurse {All-Time 50-21 | TOR}

The Toronto Raptors have far and away been one of the most dangerous teams in the Eastern Conference. Despite a slew of injuries all season long, they still sit second in the Eastern Conference with a record of 50-21. They are a mere 2.5 games back of the Milwaukee Bucks who hold first place.

The Toronto Raptors have been doing their best to catch up to the Bucks, despite injuries. In their last ten games, the Toronto Raptors are 6-4 with solid wins over the Heat, Pelicans, and Knicks. They have unfortunately lost very winnable games against the Pistons twice and the Cavaliers in that same stretch.

The Toronto Raptors face off against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that they will be seeing for the first time this year. It is the first of a home and home as the Raptors have drawn the role of visitor for the first match. The Thunder defense is impressive and the Raptors are still unsure if they will have key man Kyle Lowry in the lineup. It will be interesting to see how the Raptors to adjust.

Oklahoma City Thunder (Home)

Head Coach: Billy Donovan {All-Time 192-124 | OKC}

The Oklahoma City Thunder have gone tumbling down the Western Conference table due to a poor run of form and opportunistic competitors raising their standard of play. Once third in the West just at the end of February, the Thunder now rest at sixth place with just a half-game separating them from the Utah Jazz who are seventh.

The Thunder’s disappointing three-game slide and accumulated 4-6 record over their last ten games has been central to their descent. They have lost to teams that they should be competing closely against – the Heat, Warriors, Pacers, and Clippers. Instead, they are failing to execute regularly and have been beaten soundly more often than not.

Perhaps the Toronto Raptors are exactly the team that the Oklahoma City Thunder need to right their ship. The Toronto Raptors are debatably the strongest team in the NBA, but they are suffering through both injury issues and lineup adjustments. The Raptors play a simple offensive game, but the Thunder will have to contain Kawhi Leonard if they want a shot at taking one away from the East’s elite.

What’s At Stake?

In their rather short histories, the Toronto Raptors and the Oklahoma City Thunder have played a total of 19 games. Of those 19 regular season games, the Thunder lead the Raptors 12-7.

A win for the Toronto Raptors would bring them within two games of the Milwaukee Bucks who are first in the East.

A win for the Oklahoma City Thunder would give them a one-game lead over their rivals the Utah Jazz who are seventh in the West.

Questions to answer

How will Toronto deal with more injuries?

What has contributed to the Thunder’s freefall?

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

Kyle Lowry Has Gone Down With Injury, Again

It has been said over and over again, but the Toronto Raptors are hampered with injury. It has plagued them all season long and after a New York Knicks game which looked to be the last time they would play without a full lineup, Mitchell Robinson took a foul and landed on Lowry’s ankle.

Newly recovered Fred Vanvleet will have to acclimate immediately after five weeks of recovery from a torn thumb ligament, while new point guard Jeremy Lin will have less room for mistakes when he is in the game. It will be an incredible balancing act for the Raptors when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Raptors do have players returning – Serge Ibaka (Suspension), Kawhi Leonard (Load Management) – but the lack of repetition with a whole squad will hurt the Raptors in the long run. They are a deep squad, still looking for at least one more player to complete their roster.

The Thunder Have Dropped From Third To Sixth

At a point in time where most pundits believed one of the Clippers or Jazz would fall to the bottom of the playoff table, the Oklahoma City Thunder have given those teams a run for their money. Competition is important both externally and internally in the NBA and at the moment nothing seems to be pushing the Thunder’s bench unit.

Against the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder saw themselves outmatched. It wasn’t via the starting lineup though. While Paul George, Jerami Grant, and Dennis Schroder all chipped in 20+ points, the Thunder bench contributed 10. That is 10 bench points, versus the Miami Heat’s bench contribution of 67.

It comes down to recognizing what the goal is for this Thunder team every time they step on the court. Are they looking to run teams out of the gym? Grind them with an intense half-court defence? Or let Paul George take care of business one-on-one each play? What’s certain is that regardless of plan, the Thunder have shown a distinct lack of diversity in their play that assures teams can get back into or take for themselves the game with a quick change in strategy. While the addition of Westbrook will help, more needs to be provided by the Thunder as a whole.

Toronto Raptors Roster Notes

G Kyle Lowry – 17 Mar 2019 – Questionable (Ankle) – Lowry left the last game against the Knicks due to an ankle injury incurred via an errant foul by the Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson.

C-F Serge Ibaka – 20 Mar 2019 – Returned (Suspension) – Ibaka is expected to return to the Toronto Raptors’ lineup after serving his three-game suspension for a physical altercation with the Cavaliers’ Marquese Chriss.

Oklahoma City Thunder Roster Notes

G-F Andre Roberson – 14 Feb 2019 – Out (Knee) – Roberson has yet to do any on-court work, however, head coach Billy Donovan hasn’t given up hope that he could make a return this season.

G Russell Westbrook – 20 Mar 2019 – Returned (Suspension) – Westbrook is expected to return to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for accumulating 16 technical fouls this season.

Head-to-Head: Norman Powell (TOR) vs Dennis Schroder (OKC)

The bench will be the key when the Toronto Raptors and the Oklahoma City Thunder face off. Norman Powell has performed well as of late and with the injury status of Kyle Lowry unknown, he is expected to take on a bigger role. On the other side of the court, Dennis Schroder is expected to lead the reserves after an awful bench showing in their last match.

Norman Powell

Shooting Guard | 6-4, 215lb (193cm, 97kg) | UCLA | Exp. 3 Years

8.4 PPG | 1.5 APG | 2.1 RPG | 0.6 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 1.1 TOV | .467 FG% | .355 3P%

As of late, Norman Powell has been playing solid basketball. In his last three matches, he’s accumulated 40 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals on 50% shooting. His efficiency is what matters most in the grand scheme of things. With one of the Raptors’ two stars seemingly out every match, Powell’s ability as a one-on-one scorer has really come to the forefront. The Thunder’s bench didn’t show up last match, so Powell is expected to lead the charge for the Toronto reserves.

Dennis Schroder

Point Guard | 6-1, 172lb (185cm, 78kg) | Germany | Exp. 5 Years

15.4 PPG | 4.1 APG | 3.5 RPG | 0.8 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 2.2 TOV | .410 FG% | .334 3P%

Dennis Schroder led the line for the Thunder when the Thunder played the Heat due to the absence of All-Star Russell Westbrook. He was effective, contributing 20 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds despite producing 5 turnovers. After a terrible showing by the Thunder reserves in the last match, Oklahoma City will surely welcome Schroder’s playmaking with the second unit. He will have to provide them with a spark off the bench if they want to take down the Toronto Raptors.

Toronto Raptors at Oklahoma City Thunder Predictions and Odds

The oddsmakers have the Toronto Raptors favored over the Oklahoma City Thunder by 2.5, with an over/under of 109.