Zion Williamson, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans (23-31) play host to the Oklahoma City Thunder (32-22) on Thursday evening. The matchup features one team in New Orleans that is trying to make a playoff push, with the other team in Oklahoma City aiming to improve its postseason positioning prior to the NBA All-Star break. Brandon Ingram is listed as questionable for New Orleans with an ankle issue.

Tip-off is at 8 p.m. ET at Smoothie King Center. Sportsbooks list the Pelicans as 3.5-point home favorites, up 1.5 points from the opening line, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 234.5 in the latest Thunder vs. Pelicans odds. Before making any Pelicans vs. Thunder picks or NBA predictions, see what SportsLine’s advanced computer model has to say.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and last season it returned a whopping $4,280 on its top-rated NBA spread and money line picks. It’s already returned almost $3,000 in profit on all top-rated NBA picks during the 2019-20 season and entered Week 17 on a blistering 35-19 run on all top-rated NBA spread picks. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Pelicans vs. Thunder. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are the NBA odds and trends for Thunder vs. Pelicans:

  • Thunder vs. Pelicans spread: Pelicans -3.5
  • Thunder vs. Pelicans over-under: 234.5 points
  • Thunder vs. Pelicans money line: Pelicans -167; Thunder +144
  • OKC: The Thunder are 35-19 against the spread this season
  • NOP: The Pelicans are 17-5-2 against the spread in the last 24 games

Why the Thunder can cover

The model knows that, after a scalding-hot stretch, the Thunder have cooled a bit, but this is still a very potent team. Oklahoma City has excelled defensively this season, ranking as an above-average unit almost across the board. OKC is elite at keeping opponents away from the free-throw line and, on the other end, it has seen big-time success in creating free throws offensively.

The Thunder also maintain success in the possession battle by avoiding turnovers, and the perimeter duo of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul inspires confidence in any matchup. Gilgeous-Alexander leads the team with 19.5 points per game, with Paul bringing veteran poise and high-end production at 17.5 points and 6.6 assists per contest.

Why the Pelicans can cover

Even so, Oklahoma City isn’t a lock to cover the Pelicans vs. Thunder spread. The model also understands that the Pelicans are a different team lately, winning 17 of the last 26 games and three consecutive contests. Ingram’s status could have real impact but, even if he can’t go, the Pelicans have one of the best offenses in the league when healthy. Supporting pieces like JJ Redick provide floor spacing, with high-end guard play from Holiday and elite efficiency Williamson. 

The Pelicans should have success on the perimeter from a shooting standpoint, and there is also a path to prosperity on the offensive glass against the Thunder. Defensively, New Orleans isn’t quite as potent overall, but the Thunder deploy a middling offense, and the Pelicans should be able to close possessions against an OKC team that rarely grabs offensive rebounds.  

How to make Pelicans vs. Thunder picks

SportsLine’s model is leaning over on the total, with Danilo Gallinari and Williamson projected to outscore their averages. The model also says one side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations.

So who wins Thunder vs. Pelicans and which side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Pelicans vs. Thunder spread you need to jump on Thursday, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks, and find out.  

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