Oklahoma City Thunder vs Toronto Raptors: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/18/18
Both Toronto and OKC are on extended winning streaks, but one of them will end when the two sides square off in Canada on Sunday afternoon
The Raptors needed an extra five minutes to dispose of the Mavericks on Friday, but they did so to run out 122-115 winners. DeMar DeRozan continued his outstanding season with 29 points and six assists, in what was Toronto’s 11th win in a row.
The Raptors now sit comfortably on top of the Eastern Conference Standings. Their record sits at 52-17, which leaves them five games ahead of Boston in second.
The Thunder are a little more desperate for victories. They sit in fourth place in the west with a 42-29 record, but they are just two games ahead of eighth and 3.5 games from tenth.
They have, however, won five games on the trot, the latest of which was a 121-113 effort over the Clippers. Corey Brewer had his best game for his new side in the win, putting up 22 points.
Three keys to the game
Form – Both of these teams are playing excellent basketball of late. Toronto have won 11 in a row, and an extraordinary 18 of their last 19. The Thunder’s winning stretch isn’t as long, but they have still won five in a row, three of which were by double-figure margins.
The Canada Effect – Teams haven’t enjoyed crossing the border so far this season. Toronto have played 34 games at the Air Canada Centre this season and have lost just five of them. They are 12-1 in their last 13 games there, with the solitary loss being an overtime defeat at the hands of the Bucks.
Keeping Adams off the offensive glass – It pays to be on your game on the defensive glass against OKC. Thanks to Adams, they are easily the best offensive rebounding side in the league, grabbing 27.8% of available boards at that end of the floor – 2% more than any other side. Adams snares 5.1 of them per game, which puts him way out ahead of the pack alongside Andre Drummond, and in OKC’s most recent game he managed an enormous ten offensive boards.
Matchup to watch
Kyle Lowry vs Russell Westbrook – Lowry isn’t having the best season of his career, but he is still a dangerous scorer and creator, and an intelligent defender. This season, he averages 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.2 steals, and shoots 39% from long range. These numbers excluding the rebounds are significantly below his output last season, but they still represent a dangerous player.
Westbrook is slightly down on his numbers from last season too, but he is still just a hair away from once again averaging a triple-double for the season. He is putting up 25.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 10.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He has contributed triple-doubles in all of his last four games, including a 32-12-12 effort earlier in the week.
Toronto Raptors predicted starting lineup
PG – Kyle Lowry | SG – DeMar DeRozan | SF – OG Anunoby | PF – Serge Ibaka | C – Jonas Valanciunas
Oklahoma City Thunder predicted starting lineup
PG – Russell Westbrook | SG – Corey Brewer | SF – Paul George | PF – Carmelo Anthony | C – Steven Adams
Westbrook has suited up 17 times against Toronto in his career. In these games, he averages 21.4 points on 44% shooting from the floor, 5.6 rebounds, 8.9 assists and 1.7 steals. He does, however, turn it over 4.4 times a night in these matchups as well.
DeRozan has been more inefficient against Oklahoma City than against any other team in the league in his career. He scores 18.3 points on just 39% shooting and has connected on only one of his 21 3-point attempts against them. His 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists are right around his career average, and he turns it over 2.3 times in these games.
The over/under points total has been set at 217.0 in this game, which is too low. Toronto play fast and score big, and while OKC are renowned for having an excellent defense, their recent games have been very high scoring. Take the over on this bet.
This will be an entertaining game. OKC play better against good teams and will use this as a means by which to measure themselves in the lead up to the playoffs. Westbrook will notch up yet another triple-double, while George will continue to work his way back into good form.
It won’t be enough though, against a side which rarely loses at home. DeRozan contributes every game, and Lowry will be feeling rested after taking the Raptors most recent game off. Led by their reliable backcourt and significantly better depth than OKC, Toronto will run out 115-110 winners in a close one.
The game will be broadcast locally on TSN and FS Oklahoma. Tip-off is at 1pm ET.