The 22-24 Detroit Pistons started the season well, but have now lost 18 of their last 26 games and six consecutive contests. The 28-20 Oklahoma City Thunder have gone 14-5 in their last 19 games and are on a six-game winning streak after a poor opening two months. The two squads meet today in Detroit (5pm ET Saturday).
Detroit has fallen victim to injuries, which have affected Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer and Reggie Bullock for much of the season. However, the team has overall just looked much worse recently, especially on offense.
The Thunder started the year losing many close games and winning lots of blowouts. Their record didn’t reflect their strength as a team. Now, while the defense has slipped a bit, the offense is playing much better and the team is having much better late-game luck.
This is a lopsided matchup on paper, but the fact that Detroit is playing at home could be an important factor. Let’s predict some other factors that could affect this game and then preview how you should bet on the USA bookmakers’ posted lines for the contest. We will give our OKC vs Detroit Pistons predictions and betting picks at the end.
Will Steven Adams or Andre Drummond Win the Battle of the Boards?
The Thunder’s Adams and the Pistons’ Drummond are both All-Star caliber centers who didn’t make the cut for the midseason classic this year. Rebounding is the best skill for both players, so it will be fascinating to watch them duke it out underneath the basket for boards.
Adams averages just 9.0 rebounds per game to Drummond’s 15.3, but don’t think that Drummond is much better because of that. Adams actually edges Drummond in offensive rebounding, 5.2 to 5. Adams doesn’t get as many defensive rebounds because the Thunder’s strategy is to have him box out for other players to swoop in and grab the boards.
If one of these guys can do a better job than the other at boxing out on the defensive glass, that player’s team will have an important edge in this game.
Will Avery Bradley Focus on Defense Instead of Forcing Offense?
One thing that has gone under the radar this season is just how bad Bradley has played with his new team. With increased usage, the Pistons guard has posted his lowest true shooting percentage (49.7) in seven seasons, his fewest rebounds per game (2.4) in five seasons and easily the most turnovers per game (2.3) of his career.
His defensive impact is still positive, but the Pistons’ splits when he is on the court versus when he’s off indicate he might not be playing like the lockdown defender he is supposed to be.
It makes sense for Bradley to cool it just a bit on offense so he can conserve energy for defense. He needs to lock down the likes of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, after all. Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris are both healthy and in the starting lineup, so there’s no reason for Bradley to lead the unit in usage percentage.
Can the OKC Bench Provide Some Sort of Offensive Spark?
Most of the Thunder’s bench pieces are defensive-minded players who are not great shooters or offensive creators. Five of the top six reserves for OKC (Raymond Felton, Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson, Josh Huestis and Terrance Ferguson) shoot between 35.5 and 42.9 percent from the field.
Detroit doesn’t have a great bench. But rookie Luke Kennard has heated up in January, Boban Marjanovic is dangerous scoring on the low block and Anthony Tolliver is a capable three-point shooter.
If the Thunder bench is off its game on the offensive end, the Pistons could take advantage and seize the reserve battle as a key advantage.
Our Preview’s Oklahoma City Thunder at Detroit Pistons Betting Picks & Predictions
Detroit is just a mess right now. Andre Drummond is basically the main thing the team has going for it, and Steven Adams should do a decent job neutralizing him.
I don’t think the Pistons have enough offensive weapons in this game with their injury situation to beat the Thunder. OKC should take this one by a decent margin, despite being on the road. So these are the Thunder vs Detroit Pistons predictions of this preview, having scrutinized the sportsbooks’ betting lines:
- The smart move here seems to be siding with the Thunders to win by at least the rather modest 3.5-point margin in this game. Place your bet on the Thunder -3.5 @ -110 with Bookmaker. Other firms have worse odds or the spread is -4pts.
- The Pistons’ offense sputters without Reggie Jackson – the team has dropped to 20th in offensive rating. The Thunder aren’t quite as dominant on defense as they were earlier in the season, but they should smell blood with this toothless Pistons attack and lock down on the defensive end. Bet under 207 total points to be scored @ best odds of -105 with Bovada.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.