The Thunder host the 76ers Saturday night in the first meeting between these teams this season. The 76ers will be playing the second leg of a back-to-back in Oklahoma City after a disappointing 101-94 road loss to the Pelicans on Friday night. The Thunder will be looking to find some momentum as they have lost five straight and eight of their last nine games overall after Thursday’s 129-102 loss to the Cavaliers.
Harris and Simmons lead the 76ersIf the 76ers win and cover, it will be because Tobias Harris plays well and other contributors step up around him. George Hill remains out with a thumb injury while Joel Embiid is doubtful to play as he will likely rest on the second leg of back-to-back games.
Without Embiid, the 76ers will rely on Harris to get into the lane and either generate scoring opportunities for himself, lobs to rim-running bigs, or open threes for shooters. Ben Simmons will also play a key role as another playmaker and off-ball slasher on offense. Shooters like Seth Curry, Danny Green, and Furkan Korkmaz will need to take advantage of open looks after penetration from Harris, Simmons, and Shake Milton.
Tobias Harris' shooting splits:— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) April 4, 2021
Only 8 players have finished a season with 50/40/90 splits in NBA history: Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Malcolm Brogdon.
PHI/MEM, 7pm/et, NBA LP pic.twitter.com/Un7hrbjj4U
Harris will be the most important player offensively as he has the ability to generate his own shot from all three levels. He is shooting above-average percentages at the rim (67%), in the midrange (50%), and from beyond the arc (41%) among forwards. His 122.6 points per 100 shot attempts rank in the 87th percentile among forwards, and his career-high 17.5% assist percentage also ranks in the 87th percentile. Harris has been efficient all season, and he has shown over the last month that he has the game to lead the 76ers with either or both of Embiid and Simmons out.
If Harris and Simmons can consistently get downhill, the rest of the 76ers will be well-positioned to thrive in their roles and cover as short favorites as they remain an elite defensive team despite Embiid’s absence. Since Joel Embiid’s knee injury in mid-March, the 76ers lead the NBA with a 104.2 defensive rating (per Cleaning The Glass).
Young Thunder Must Step UpIf the Thunder cover or pull the upset as double-digit underdogs, it will be because they shot the ball well from the three-point line. The Thunder are dealing with some key injuries as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander remains out with a foot injury and Lu Dort also remains out with a concussion. Mike Muscala (ankle), Josh Hall (concussion), and Isaiah Roby (concussion) are all out while Darius Bazley (shoulder) is probable to play. Al Horford (age) will not be playing as the Thunder turn to younger players for the rest of the season.
The Thunder will need their young trio of Theo Maledon, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Moses Brown to step up to pull the upset. These three have all seen a significant uptick in usage with SGA, Dort, and Horford out, and the Thunder will need at least two of them to have big nights to win or cover.
Poku dropped 25-9-4 last night.— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) April 8, 2021
Theo dropped 25-5-5 last night.
Moses had seven offensive rebounds last night.
It was written, literally. https://t.co/bti7K66pcc
Maledon will need to find the balance between over-passing and being aggressive enough to attack the 76ers’ defense when they give him room. Pokusevski has never seen a shot he didn’t like (among the 222 NBA players with at least 250 shots this season, his 33.6% field goal percentage ranks dead last), and he will need to make shots against tough defenders like Simmons and Harris. Brown will need to take advantage of Embiid’s offense inside and continue pounding the offensive glass.
- 76ers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
- 76ers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight-up loss.
- 76ers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a road favorite.
- 76ers are 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
- 76ers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS loss.
- Thunder are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games as a home underdog.
- Thunder are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 home games.
- Thunder are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games playing on 1 day’s rest.
- Thunder are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Thunder are fun, but they are still horrible as they have lost their last five games by an average of 29.4 points per game. The 76ers will be without Embiid, but the 76ers should bounce back with a quality performance after they completely laid an egg against the Pelicans on Friday night. Expect Tobias Harris to be the best player on the court as the 76ers win and cover as double-digit road favorites.
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under as the 76ers’ defense will pose a significant challenge for the young Thunder. Pokusevski’s offense will be the difference in the total going over or under. While the seven-footer has an incredible shooting range, he struggles and oftentimes gets overpowered against stronger defenders, and this will be an issue against the likes of Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. Expect him to make some impressive shots but miss even more as the score stays under the total.