Nuggets vs. Thunder Picks and Prediction: Don’t Underestimate Oklahoma City

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and teammate Isaiah Joe #11 celebrate a basket against the Dallas Mavericks. Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP.

The Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder meet in a Northwest division battle televised on NBA TV. This is the unheralded Thunder’s chance to shine for a national TV audience.

Let’s take a look at these two teams to find a winning NBA pick.

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Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Thursday, November 3, 2022 – 08:00 PM EDT at Paycom Center

Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are currently at 4-3 and working through issues reintegrating their injured players from last season. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are back in the lineup for the Nuggets but have yet to return to the form which got Nuggets fans so excited about the star trio's potential 2 seasons ago.

Porter Jr. and Jokić: Perfect Compliment

The Nuggets, of course, have MVP Nikola Jokić, who is averaging 21 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 8.4 assists this season. He is leading his team in all 3 categories. Yet the Nuggets know they cannot rely on Jokić's brilliance alone, and winning basketball games in the NBA is a team effort.

Michael Porter Jr.'s return to the lineup has given the Nuggets more offensive punch. He is currently averaging 18.5 points per game in just 29 minutes played per game. Porter Jr. is a pure shooter who has the athletic ability to get to the rim but has struggled with injuries throughout his own career.

With Porter Jr. in the lineup, the Nuggets become so much more versatile offensively and his ability to shoot from outside gives Jokić more space to work down low. Porter Jr. is the perfect compliment to the Serbian center when he is able to stay in the lineup.

Murray's Comeback

Jamal Murray is another player that the Nuggets will be relying on if they expect to make a playoff push this season. The Nuggets sorely missed Murray's ability to shoot and create off the dribble while he was injured.

Murray does not appear to have the same explosive burst that he did before the injury, however, he is working hard to regain that explosive acceleration that propelled him to be one of the top playmakers in the league.

Coach Malone's Cautiousness

The Nuggets are currently working on reintegrating their 2 stars in the lineup without hurting them further. The Nuggets know they can win in the regular season with just Jokić, but to make a push in the playoffs they're going to need all 3 players.

Therefore, Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been cautious with the minutes of Porter Jr. and Murray. But both men have a great opportunity tonight to put up big numbers against the Oklahoma City defense that can be suspect.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been derided around the league for their tanking. The Thunder have traded away many stars, acquired many draft picks, and don't appear to be actively looking to win games. With the 2023 NBA draft class looking to be loaded, it is hard to argue with the Thunder’s strategy. However, it is tough for Thunder fans to watch this current iteration of the team.

The Thunder are led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is currently averaging 31.5 points per game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is in a tough position, an ultra-talented player, yet stuck on a team with no interest in winning.

It is one of the biggest drawbacks of the NBA's Lottery system that rewards losing, that a player like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is forced to toil in relative obscurity because he is unfortunate to be on the wrong team at the wrong time.

Young Promise Josh Giddey

The Thunder also have another exciting young player in the backcourt: Josh Giddey. Giddey has struggled with injuries and has missed 3 of the Thunder's 7 games so far. Whether or not the Thunder are being cautious with Giddey because of the actual injuries or just a desire to lose has yet to be seen.

However, he is a brilliant playmaker, and his ability to find open teammates with precise passes has excited Thunder fans for their future.

Frontcourt Struggles

The Thunder have their guard positions down but they struggle up front. The Thunder does not have the size to compete in the frontcourt. They had hoped to address that in this year's draft when they took Chet Holmgren's number 2 overall, but Holmgren suffered an injury during the offseason and is out for the year.

While the Thunder will put forth good efforts every night, it seems like another wasted year in Oklahoma.

Key Matchup

Jamal Murray vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

The Nuggets are aware they need Jamal Murray to return to his previous All-Star form if they're going to compete. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is playing like an All-Star and I can see these 2 players having a shooting showdown in the backcourt tonight.

Although they will not be matched against each other initially, both players will get to guard each other on switches. It must be noted Alexander's defense is much better. Regardless, Murray has the size and shooting ability to take advantage of Alexander's defense if they are matched up against each other.

If the Nuggets are able to hold Alexander down, the Thunder have no way to keep up with their potent offense. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a big night, the Thunder have a chance to get another exciting upset win. To do so, the Thunder will also have to slow down Jamal Murray because a big night from the Nugget star guard could mean disaster for the Thunder.

Picks and Prediction

Even though I think the Nuggets will probably win this game outright, this is too many points in NBA odds to be given to an Oklahoma City team that loves to cover the spread. Oklahoma City has covered its last 5 games against the Nuggets.

After running my projections I have the final score to be 114-111 in favor of Denver.

This matches up with what I've seen on the court, so I expect Oklahoma City Thunder to cover the NBA odds as well as this game to go Under. According to the best sportsbooks, our best bets for tonight's game are Oklahoma City and the Under.

NBA Pick: Oklahoma City +5.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Oklahoma City +5.5 (-110)
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NBA Pick: Under 229.5 (-110) at BetOnline

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Under 229.5 (-110)
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*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.