Not only are the Thunder heading to Phoenix to play for the second time in as many nights, but they’re also doing it without All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — see how it plays out in our NBA betting picks below.
Kevin Durant will make his home debut for the Phoenix Suns against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
The Suns acquired the All-Star forward in a trade with the Nets at the trade deadline and he’s helped them win each of its lats three games. That streak has pushed the Suns to fourth in the Western Conference standings and just 2.5 games out of second place in the postseason picture.
Oklahoma City is also enjoying a three-game run and playing its second game of back-to-back nights. Its latest win – a 137-128 shootout with Golden State on Tuesday – bumped OKC to 11th in the West and on the edge of qualifying for the play-in tournament. However, leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will not play tonight.
I break down the spread and total for this 9 p.m. ET tipoff and give my best NBA picks and predictions for Thunder vs. Suns on March 8.
Thunder vs Suns best odds
Thunder vs Suns picks and predictions
Much like that last clash in Phoenix, OKC is playing its second straight game and will be without leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder opened as 7.5-point road underdogs for that last matchup and jumped as high as +9.5 when SGA was ruled out, eventually closing at +9.
Phoenix rolled out a thin rotation for that game, with the roster very light on reserve talent and Durant still working his way back from a knee sprain. The Suns won 124-115, which pushed with the closing 9-point spread.
NBA odds opened this return meeting at Phoenix -11 and instantly took action on the home side, moving this spread as high as -12.5. A quick measurement of those two spreads sees a slight 3.5-point uptick with Durant on the floor this time around, which to me is selling this Suns team short.
Since returning to play, Durant has been remarkable and extremely efficient, not being limited by the time off at all. The 6-foot-10 matchup nightmare is a collective 29-for-42 from the field (66.7%) including a 7-for-13 mark from beyond the arc. He turned up the intensity against the Mavericks this weekend, getting to the foul line for 10 of 11 free throws in a 37-point effort.
Phoenix’s offense has come to life in those three games and while it came against questionable competition with Charlotte and Chicago and then Dallas’ turnstile defense, the Suns are cooking up quick chemistry with a significant jump in their offensive output.
Oklahoma City is a stiffer test defensively but will be without a key perimeter defender in Gilgeous-Alexander, who would have stuck to Phoenix guard Devin Booker and provided some pushback offensively as well.
On top of SGA’s absence, OKC is also missing standout guard Jalen Williams, who’s averaging over 13 points per game. Williams sat out Tuesday night with a wrist injury.
The short-handed Thunder are also still sweating from an up-and-down game with Golden State on Tuesday in which the starters logged major minutes and the team had six players put in at least 27 minutes of floor time. On top of that, OKC’s offense doesn’t travel as well, with the team averaging 5.5 points less per road game and shooting just 45.8% inside foreign arenas.
Given the modest difference between the spread for Feb. 24 and this contest, the high level of play from the KD-led Suns, and an absolutely crazy crowd inside the Footprint Center tonight, I’m laying the lumber with Phoenix.
My best bet: Suns -12.5 (-110 at PointsBet)
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Thunder vs Suns spread analysis
Oddsmakers opened Phoenix as low as 11-point home favorites for Durant’s desert debut, and that quickly marched to as high as -12.5 at many books. As of Wednesday morning, some sharper books are on the lower end of this line with the Suns set as 12-point chalk.
Phoenix was slow-rolling Durant in his first two games back from a knee injury but put no minutes cap on Sunday’s matchup with the Mavericks. Durant led an impressive win for the Suns, scoring 37 points in 40 minutes.
That performance improved Phoenix to 9-3 SU and 8-3-1 ATS in the past dozen games. That stretch includes a 124-115 home victory over Oklahoma City on February 24, which pushed with the 9-point closing spread.
That victory came with Gilgeous-Alexander scratched for the Thunder (which moved the spread from OKC +7.5 to as high as +9.5), Durant still rehabbing and a thin Suns’ rotation relying heavily on the starters.
That loss in Phoenix was the Thunder’s last road game (and also came on the second of back-to-back outings), with the team enjoying a six-game home stand in which it went 3-3 SU and ATS. Oklahoma City is one of the better bets on the road this season, owning a 17-10-3 ATS mark as a visitor backed by a net rating of -2.9 away from OKC.
However, the Thunder will be without All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for this game (resting an abdominal injury) after OKC beat Golden State last night and face a rested Suns squad and an energized Phoenix crowd on zero rest – a situational spot in which the Thunder are 4-4-1 ATS on the year.
Thunder vs Suns Over/Under analysis
The Over/Under for tonight’s game hit the board at 234.5 points and has slimmed to 234 across the industry as of Wednesday morning.
The Thunder play one of the quickest paces in the league and rely on attacking the rim and scoring points in the paint. But with Gilgeous-Alexander out, OKC is missing 31.2 points per game from the rotation as well as one of its best perimeter defenders against a Suns team anchored by two of the best pure scorers in the NBA in Durant and Booker.
That combo was unstoppable against the Mavericks on the weekend, combing for 73 points against Dallas’ downtrodden defense. The Thunder do present more pushback on the defensive end but take the floor with heavy legs after playing a track meet with the Warriors on Tuesday (pace rating of 108.0 for that game).
In the three games with Durant on the floor, Phoenix is boasting an advanced offensive rating of 124.6 – a significant uptick from the Suns’ season-long metric of 114.0. That said, those numbers came against bottom-tier teams like Chicago and Charlotte as well as Dallas’ soft defense.
The total for their Feb. 24 meeting opened at 232.5 and closed at 226.5 points after Gilgeous-Alexander was a late scratch. The 124-115 finish played well above that number. The Over result is part of a 6-0-1 Over/Under run for the Thunder since that contest. Phoenix is 4-2 O/U in their last six outings straddling the All-Star break.
Thunder vs Suns betting trend to know
The Suns are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games. Find more NBA betting trends for Thunder vs. Suns.
Thunder vs Suns game info
|Location:||Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 8, 2023|
|Tip-off:||9:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally Arizona, Bally Oklahoma|