Thunder vs. Celtics prediction: NBA odds, picks, best bets for Wednesday

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Oklahoma City heads to Boston in the second leg of a back-to-back after a 109-105 loss to the 76ers on Tuesday. 

While it’s possible OKC rested its two best players, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams, ahead of Wednesday’s matchup with the Celtics, bettors should keep a close eye on the injury report.

However, if you look at the odds, the total has moved three points from 227.5 to 231.5, while the point spread has remained relatively flat, with Boston laying nine points at most sportsbooks after opening as an 8.5-point favorite. 

Given the adjustment on the total, it is a bit strange that we’ve seen little correlation on the point spread. 

Savvy NBA bettors who can read between the lines might view this as an opportunity to get ahead of the number and take a position with the Thunder as underdogs.

Thunder vs. Celtics odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Thunder +9 (-110) +310 o231.5 (-110)
Celtics -9 (-110) -390 u231.5 (-110)
Odds via FanDuel

Thunder analysis

There’s still plenty to play for if you’re Oklahoma City, as it trails the Denver Nuggets by a half-game for the top seed in the Western Conference. 

Despite sharing an identical 52-23 record with the Timberwolves, Minnesota is currently the second seed thanks to a tiebreaker advantage.

The Thunder tried to steal a game Tuesday night against Philadelphia, with Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid initially ruled out.

However, roughly an hour before tipoff, the 76ers upgraded Embiid’s status to questionable and he wound up starting, contributing 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes.

Time and time again, we’ve seen the 76ers manipulate the injury report with Embiid, and they even received a $75,000 fine from the league in February.

Chet Holmgren (l) and the Thunder lost Tuesday to the 76ers. Getty Images

Once it became clear that Embiid would play, the Thunder could easily have opted to play Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams. However, Oklahoma City ultimately decided not to resort to the same tactics as Philadelphia.

Nonetheless, the Thunder still needs their star players to be at their best, considering they have the most demanding remaining schedule of the three teams vying for the top seed in the West.

Per Tankathon, Oklahoma City’s remaining opponents have a combined .520 win percentage, compared to .487 for Minnesota and .456 for Denver.

Thus, given the remaining schedule, I’d expect a decent effort from the Thunder against Boston, considering that they have the smallest margin for error compared to Denver and Minnesota.

Celtics analysis

With a 59-16 record, the Celtics have already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston also has a 6.5-game lead over the Nuggets for the best record in the NBA. 

Thus, with seven games remaining in the regular season, the Celtics are one game away from clinching homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

Boston currently has the fourth-softest remaining schedule (opponent .454 win percentage). And while the Celtics would prefer to wrap up the top overall seed as quickly as possible, Wednesday’s matchup against the Thunder is far from a must-win game.

Despite winning eight of the last 10 meetings against the Thunder, Boston went just 2-8 against the spread in those games.

Moreover, Oklahoma City has won the last two head-to-head matchups and covered five straight games in this series.

Along with the Celtics and Nuggets, OKC is one of three teams that ranks in the top 10 in both offense and defensive efficiency.

The Thunder put pressure on their opponents, ranking eighth with 103.6 possessions per game. They can be particularly dangerous in transition, averaging 15.6 fastbreak points.

While the Celtics will try to win the game on the perimeter with a barrage of 3-point shots, OKC is the more balanced team, given its ability to score on the interior.

The Thunder rank seventh in points in the paint (52.2), compared to the Celtics, who rank 29th (46.8) in the same category.

In the last meeting, OKC outshot Boston from the perimeter, making 18 3-pointers vs. 15.

If all things are equal, the Thunder should be able to keep pace with Boston in this rematch based on its efficiency inside the paint. 

Betting on the NBA?

Thunder vs. Celtics prediction

(7:30 p.m. ET)

The value in this matchup stems from the power ratings, as my model makes the Thunder closer to a six-point underdog.

And according to our Action Labs database, OKC is 32-16-1 against the spread (+13.4 units) over the last three seasons after opening as an underdog of 8.5 or more points.

Some sportsbooks have adjusted the Thunder from nine-point underdogs back to the opening number of 8.5, which might indicate a greater likelihood that Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams will play.

As a result, taking the Thunder at +9 is worth a gamble while we await further confirmation on the official injury report. 

Pick: Thunder +8.5 (-113, BetRivers)

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