NBA Picks for April 12: Thunder’s Surprise Playoff Trip Ends Quickly

profile image of Matthew.Jordan
Jose Alvarado #15 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives past Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 13, 2023. Ian Maule/Getty Images/AFP.

NBA Pick: Thunder/Pelicans Pelicans -5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

BetOnline logo
Pelicans -5 (-110)
Visit Site

Picks Summary:

  • Bulls vs. Raptors: Raptors ML (-210)
  • O.G. Anunoby Over 1.5 Steals (+125)
  • Thunder vs. Pelicans: Pelicans -5 (-110)
  • Brandon Ingram Under 45.5 Points, Rebounds, and Assists (-115)

There are two more Play-In Tournament games around the NBA on Wednesday night, but the difference from Tuesday is that both losers on Wednesday – likely Oklahoma City and Chicago – will have their season end.

Here are four NBA picks from the two games with NBA odds from BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. 

Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 – 07:00 PM EDT at Scotiabank Arena 

The winner of this game will play Friday night at Tuesday’s Hawks-Heat winner for the East’s No. 8 seed and the right to lose to the top-seeded and NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks in Round 1 of the playoffs. It’s the first-ever playoff meeting between these franchises.  

This also could be the final game in a Bulls uniform for former All-Star center Nikola Vucevic of Chicago and guards Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. of Toronto.  

Vucevic will be a free agent, although the Bulls can potentially pay him more than any team if he comes back, and he probably might. Both VanVleet and Trent were shopped ahead of this year’s Trade Deadline with both expected to exercise player opt-outs and hit the market. The Raptors likely would like both back, but some guys just don’t want to play in Canada.

Raptors’ Performance

Toronto won two of three in the season series, including the most recent matchup 104-98 on Feb. 28. The Bulls averaged just 104.3 points. Since the All-Star break, Toronto led the NBA in the fewest opponent field goal attempts (82.3) and ranked second in fewest opponent points per game (108.6) in that span, while Chicago ranked first (107.9).

The Raptors were 31-6 when holding opponents to 110 points or fewer. I’d like under the total here normally with those statistics, but it’s too low.  

Coach Nick Nurse’s team set a single-season franchise record with 772 total steals and averaged a league-best 9.4 steals per game thanks in large part to O.G. Anunoby, who led the league in steals per game (1.91) and total steals (128). He was the first player in franchise history to finish as the NBA’s total steals leader. 

If considering some props plays: Vucevic has had a double-double in seven of his last 10 games vs. the Raptors. Zach LaVine is averaging 22.8 ppg in his last five against Toronto. The Bulls are 9-5 this season when former Raptors DeMar DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic each score 20 or more points in the same game. Raptors leading scorer Pascal Siakam averaged 20.0 ppg this year against Chicago. Anunoby averaged 2.3 steals in the series.  

Teams Stats

Chicago was 18-23 on the road this season and Toronto 27-14.  

  • Raptors are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a losing road record. 
  • Bulls are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Wednesday games. 

NBA Pick: Raptors ML (-210) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

Heritage Sports logo
Raptors ML (-210)
Visit Site

NBA Prop Pick: O.G. Anunoby Over 1.5 Steals (+125) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

BetOnline logo
O.G. Anunoby Over 1.5 Steals (+125)
Visit Site

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 – 09:30 PM EDT at Smoothie King Center 

The winner of this game will play Friday night at Tuesday’s Timberwolves-Lakers loser for the West’s No. 8 seed and the right to lose to the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in Round 1 of the playoffs. 

We feel obligated to give a Zion Williamson update: no he’s not playing and likely won’t be ready for any of Round 1 should New Orleans even advance. The former No. 1 overall pick says the main thing holding him back right now is getting over the mental hurdle of his injury and that there are times when he still feels a hesitation when he makes certain moves. Williamson won’t play until he “feels like Zion.”  

Backup point guard Jose Alvarado is also out for New Orleans. He hasn’t played since Feb. 27 with a stress reaction in his right tibia. Alvarado won’t be ready for Friday, either, if his team advances.  

Know that the No. 9 team like New Orleans is 4-0 all-time against the No. 10 team like Oklahoma City in play-in tournament history. The Pels were a No. 9 last year, beat No. 10 San Antonio by 10 in the first game (laughable now that the Spurs were actually a playoff team one year ago), and then upset the No. 8 Clippers (without Paul George and Kawhi Leonard) 105-101 to advance.  

The Wait Is Over

It’s the first time in the play-in tournament for the Thunder as they have been tanking for years and largely were expected to do the same this year. In all honestly, I’m not sure management would be that upset losing this game to get back into the draft lottery. Look out next year, though: Oklahoma City had the youngest roster in the NBA on the opening night of the 2022-23 season.  

New Orleans won the first three matchups this season with Oklahoma City but lost the most recent one, 110-96, on March 11 behind 35 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Pelicans committed 22 turnovers, leading to 23 OKC points. Brandon Ingram was out for the Pelicans. This season, he was one of four players to average at least 24 points and five rebounds while shooting a minimum of 39.0% from three-point range

Since March 17, Ingram is averaging 28.6 points, 8.1 assists, and 6.6 rebounds and has had his first two career triple-doubles in that stretch. Teammate Jonas Valančiūnas finished fifth in the NBA with 43 double-doubles.  

The Thunder players are new to this playoff-type arena. Oklahoma City’s current roster has combined for a league-low 55 playoff games to date. Nearly half of those (24) come from midseason addition Dario Saric, who barely plays.   

New Orleans is home, has veterans who have been in this role previously in Ingram, Valančiūnas, and CJ McCollum, and has thrived in the fourth quarter this season, averaging 27.5 points (ninth in NBA) on 48.4% shooting (fourth) and 7.2 free throws attempted (fifth) in the fourth. I think Ingram has a big night, but his PRA total of 45.5 is massive, so we’ll lean Under as this could be a route.  

Teams Stats

  • Thunder are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games. 
  • Pelicans are 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games overall. 

For New Orleans residents looking to bet on this game, you can do it at our top Louisiana betting sites.

NBA Pick: Pelicans -5 (-110) at BetOnline

NBA Prop Pick: Brandon Ingram Under 45.5 Points, Rebounds, and Assists (-115) at BetOnline

BetOnline logo
Brandon Ingram Under 45.5 Points, Rebounds, and Assists (-115)
Visit Site

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.