Thunder vs Suns Picks, Prediction Today | Sunday, March 3

Thunder vs Suns Picks, Prediction Today | Sunday, March 3 article feature image

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns controls the ball against Jalen Williams #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center. (Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images)

Thunder vs. Suns Picks, Prediction for Sunday, March 3

Sunday, March 3
9:30 p.m.
Pick: Under 235 (-125)

Here's everything you need to know about Thunder vs. Suns on Sunday, March 3 — our expert prediction and betting picks for today.

The game tips off at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. As of Sunday afternoon, the Thunder are 5-point favorites (-5) at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the total set at over/under 233.5.

The Thunder and Suns will try to get back in the win column after losses to two teams that look destined to finish outside the playoff picture. Oklahoma City (OKC) lost 132-118 against a Spurs (12-48) team that almost couldn't miss, shooting 48.7% from the perimeter and 52.7% from the floor overall.

As for the Suns, their 118-109 defeat to the Rockets (26-34) could prove costlier, with Devin Booker exiting the game with a sprained right ankle injury. And although Phoenix head coach Frank Vogel told reporters after the contest that Booker's x-rays were negative, the Suns will play for a second time in as many days, while the Thunder will have a two-day rest advantage between games.

Nonetheless, the story in this matchup is Booker's status, given that we've seen the Thunder move as high as 6-point favorites after opening at -1. If you've yet to back the Thunder, you've already missed out on a ton of value. However, the total might offer another option to get involved in this game.

Let's get to our Thunder vs. Suns prediction and Thunder vs. Suns pick.

Thunder vs. Suns Prediction

Pick: Alternate Total – Under 235 (-125)

Thunder Betting Outlook

I wasn't entirely surprised to see a high-scoring affair between OKC and the Spurs. After all, San Antonio plays at a blistering pace, ranking fourth with 105.1 possessions per game, according to TeamRankings.

However, the Spurs shot exceptionally well on the day, and sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the opponent.

I'm still bullish on this Thunder defense that ranks fourth in efficiency, allowing 109 points per 100 possessions. OKC is excellent at protecting the rim, as it's also fourth in opponent points allowed in the paint (46.5).

Moreover, Oklahoma City forces more turnovers than any other team, averaging 15.6.

Turnovers can be problematic for the Suns because they don't play with a traditional point guard. It's worth noting that Phoenix's average of 14.9 turnovers is the sixth-highest in the league.

In their first meeting in November, the Suns tallied 17 turnovers compared to just seven for the Thunder.

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Suns Betting Outlook

With the Suns playing the second leg of a back-to-back, league rules state they don't have to submit an official injury report until 1 p.m. local time on game day. As a result, we have no immediate clarity regarding Booker's status.

However, this line move is so aggressive that I suspect it can only be injury-related.

Booker's the second-leading scorer (27.5 PPG) on a Suns team that's already a bit top-heavy. Per, Phoenix ranks 29th in bench points with 27.9 per game.

Thus, Phoenix doesn't have a player off the bench who can immediately step in to fill his void.

One thing the Suns can do to help their chances of winning the game is to continue to play better defense. Although they're just 3-3 in their last six games, their 108.4 defensive rating is the sixth-best during that span.

After being in the bottom half of the league for much of the season, the Suns now have a 114.3 defensive rating, putting them 12th in the league. And while this transformation has taken a little longer than some might've expected, Vogel's track record as a defensive coach is finally starting to take shape in the desert.

Thunder vs. Suns Picks, Odds

Sunday, Mar 3
9:30pm ET
Thunder Odds
-112o / -108u
Suns Odds
-112o / -108u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

There are some compelling reasons why I prefer a play on the total here. For one, the Suns have proven to be a much better defensive team of late.

The Suns could also be without one of their best players if Booker were to miss the game.

Per, the Suns' average total of 232.8 points is the 11th-highest in the league, yet they're 33-27 to the under. Those numbers suggest that their totals are still inflated, considering that eight of the 10 teams with a higher average total are going over with at least a 50% clip.

It's also worth noting when Booker misses a game and the Suns are underdogs, the total is a perfect 2-0 to the under this season.

Lastly, teams tend to play better defensively off a game where they allowed 132 or more points with an opening total of 236 or higher. Our Action Labs database shows that the under is 56-32 (63.6%) for 19.55 units.

The adjustment on the point spread (+5 points) has been much more aggressive than the move on the total (-2 points).

My original intention was to play this game under 235 points, but as I'm writing, the line moved against me by 1.5 points to 233.5. As a result, I'll add a little insurance and play an alternate total of 235, which is slightly juiced to -125 at BetRivers.

Pick: Alternate Total – Under 235 (-125)

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Doug Ziefel
May 22, 2024 UTC