NBA Play-In Tournament 2023: Thunder vs. Pelicans odds, predictions and best bets

By Zachary Cohen  ( 

April 11, 2023 02:10 PM

NBA Play-In Tournament 2023: Thunder vs. Pelicans odds, predictions and best bets

The NBA Play-In Tournament has provided us with a lot of excitement since its implementation, and we're looking forward to the event's matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, April 12th. The winner of this game will get a chance to play for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Jonathan Von Tobel will be previewing every NBA series that these NBA Playoffs have to offer, so make sure you check out what he has to say for all of these intriguing matchups. However, we're also doing some head-to-head previews, while continuing to give you your usual dose of NBA best bets and player props. With that said, we have a lot in store for what are some of the most exciting weeks of the year. Keep reading as we dive into this battle, which features two teams that would love a crack at the Denver Nuggets in the first round. 

MORE: Check out our Pro Picks page for everything our experts have!

Thunder at Pelicans betting odds

Pelicans -5.5 / Total: 228

For updated odds, check out our VSiN NBA Odds page!

Thunder at Pelicans Side Analysis

The Thunder and Pelicans met four times during the regular season and the road team covered in all those games. And while home-court advantage will be a bit more important with the season on the line, we think the trend of the road team hanging around will continue in this Play-In matchup.

This Thunder team has been feisty all season long, even when the franchise had no interest in making the postseason. Well, Oklahoma City is no longer going to be shy about winning games, and the Thunder will have the best player on the court in this one. That might be a bit of a bold statement considering the way Brandon Ingram played down the stretch, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander turned into a legitimate superstar this year. He should completely dominate this game as far as backcourt play goes, especially with the Pelicans not even playing a traditional point guard.

The only thing Oklahoma City has to worry about here is the presence of Jonas Valanciunas in the paint. The Thunder don’t really have a bruiser that can bang with Valanciunas around the basket, and that might make things difficult on them. However, Oklahoma City has the edge in the backcourt, along with the luxury of throwing Luguentz Dort on Ingram on the defensive end. And if the center position is the only one that truly gets the Thunder here, Oklahoma City will like its chances of making this game.

Not only does this seem like a game in which the Thunder are getting too many points, but it really wouldn’t be surprising if Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey found a way to lead Oklahoma City to the outright win. After all, New Orleans is just 7-15 against the spread when facing teams that average at least 116.0 or more points per game this season. The Pelicans have also lost those games by an average of 1.5 points per game. On top of that, the Thunder are 47-33 ATS when facing teams with winning records since the start of last year.

Thunder at Pelicans Total Analysis

The under is 7-4 in the last 11 games that the Thunder have played, and it’s also 14-5 in the last 19 games that the Pelicans have played. The under is also 3-1 in the last four games that these two have played against one another, and it’s just hard to see this not being another game that falls short of the number.

New Orleans was sixth in the NBA in defensive rating during the regular season, while also being just 17th in the NBA in pace of play offensively. And while Oklahoma City does play at a fast pace offensively, the team is 13th in the NBA in defensive rating. And the Thunder are plenty capable of executing in half-court situations, so they wouldn’t mind getting bogged down into a slower game. Not many players can match Gilgeous-Alexander’s ability to score in the half court, so that’s a style the Thunder are comfortable playing.

It's also nice knowing that neither one of these teams hits 3s at a high clip. Both of these teams are outside the top 10 when it comes to made 3s per game.

Thunder at Pelicans Best Bet 

The Thunder have the best player on the floor in this game, and they have multiple players that will be comfortable making plays off the dribble here. When you compare that to a Pelicans team that is really lacking when it comes to lead ball handlers, it’s hard not to think Oklahoma City will be the ones applying more pressure in this one. The Thunder should also be a bit freer out there, as nobody expected them to be here. Meanwhile, the Pelicans would view a missed postseason as a massive disappointment.    

Pick: Thunder +5.5 (-110) 

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