NBA Picks: Thunder vs. Raptors

Jordan Sharp

Sunday, January 6, 2013 12:12 PM GMT

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 12:12 PM GMT

The Thunder head north of the border this afternoon for a matinee matchup with the Raptors. NBA Odds for this early day NBA game favor the road Thunder at -7, and with all the current injuries for the Raptors, is this the books’ version of a Sunday gift, or is this one of their clever traps?

Not so Velociraptor

This game is kind of ironic. On one hand you have the Raptors, who thought they were going places this season, but injuries and inconsistent play has killed their potential, and looks to be sending them to the lottery once again. The Raptors are 12-21 this season, sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors are in big trouble if they stay above terrible and below any good this season. You see when the Raptors acquired Kyle Lowry (might yet be traded) from the Rockets, they gave up a protected first round pick to get him from Houston.

In the James Harden trade, that protected first round pick is now in the hands of the Thunder, and if the Raptors land in the lottery between pick 4-14, the Thunder own that pick. That seems very likely at this point in the season, with the Raptors banged up and searching for trades. Currently, if the lottery were held today, and all the Ping-Pong balls fell the way it’s supposed, the Raptors would get the 9th pick, and hand it right to Sam Presti and the Thunder.

The Raptors got back Lowry last week and for now he is coming off the bench. They are still without their two starting big men, who will both remain out for this game. The Thunder need a win to keep pace in the top tier of the west, and a win in this game would be even sweeter, because it would be building for the future.

Thunder looking for separation

While they may still be the best team in the NBA's Western Conference, that gap is closing by the day. The Spurs are playing well while the Clippers and even the Grizzlies are closing in on the top spot. Getting solid road wins against an awful Eastern Conference teams is an important step to becoming a number one seed.

However this won’t be an easy game for Oklahoma City. Early road games are never a pretty sight, and the Raptors are 9-5 ATS at the Air Canada Center. Teams are also not scoring the ball well when playing in Canada. Only three teams who have played the Raptors in Canada have scored over 100 points, and Toronto has held five teams to 90 points or less this season in Toronto.

[gameodds]5/133684/238-43-19-999996-1096-198/us[/gameodds]

The Sharp Pick

The Thunder are only 1-4 ATS in their last five trips to Canada, but to be fair, two of those were with the Sonics. This Oklahoma City team with Durant and Russell Westbrook has only made the trip to Toronto a few times.

With this being an afternoon game, anything goes, and while -7 looks inviting, it is by no means a lock. The Raptors are 8-5 SU at home this season, but I’m not buying it as enough to warrant taking seven points.

I’m the UNDER to my NBA picks in this one. Afternoon games have been cashing the over rather well this season, and at 197 points, I’m thinking the total will fall just under, as these guys won’t fully wake up until the 2nd half.

My Pick: UNDER 197 at Pinnacle
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