Thunder vs. Lakers Odds
|10 p.m. ET
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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers are neck and neck in the battle for the Play-In out West. Both teams are 36-37 entering tonight’s game and the winner will own the head-to-head tiebreaker for the season.
Will the Lakers take care of business on their home court? Or will the youthful Thunder continue to shock the league in L.A.?
Let’s break down how these two teams match up and discuss the best value betting prediction for Thunder vs. Lakers.
The Thunder have gone 8-4 since the beginning of March and are still 11th place despite having the same 36-37 record as the teams ahead of them in the West standings: Mavericks (eighth), Lakers (ninth) and Pelicans (10th). The Thunder looked like they were on their way to another upset last night before the Clippers turned on the jets and blew them out in the third quarter. Now tonight’s game will be an important test of their postseason future on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Thunder live at the rim but the Lakers have done a great job of limiting opponent rim looks — eighth-best rim rate allowed to opponents this season. At the same time, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, or Austin Reaves defending Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should not inspire confidence. I would expect Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey to be able to get to their spots tonight against these weak Lakers guard defenders.
When these teams last played on March 1, the Thunder had an excellent rim and 3-point rates: 38% of their shots came at the rim and 40% were from beyond the arc. Their process was good, they just shot poorly from deep hitting 27.5% of their 3s. Anthony Davis and Russell were out for that game and Davis’ presence should help mitigate some of those rim attempts tonight as he is an elite rim-protector.
OKC will need its help defense to be on point as they have no bigs capable of defending Davis in the post. OKC plays forwards at center for all of their available minutes, so expect Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault to scheme up ways to get the ball out of Davis’ hands.
Overall, I expect the Thunder offense to thrive here, but I have major concerns with their lack of size/rebounding against this Lakers frontcourt.
The Lakers are winners of two straight games and they will need to continue their competent play if they want to make the play-in.
This is a great matchup for the Lakers offense as the Thunder lack any true rim-protecting centers in their lineup. The Thunder rank 21st in opponent rim-rate allowed, 28th in defensive-rebound rate, and 24th in FT rate allowed.
The Lakers have lived at the rim with LeBron James out as they take about 60% of their shots at the rim or in the short-midrange with Davis on the floor and James off. They should have no issue generating paint looks against this tiny Thunder team. Another edge for the Lakers is their ability to draw fouls as they rank 6th in offensive FT rate on the year.
Since inserting Reaves into their starting lineup their Free Thro Rate has dramatically increased. They have exceeded the 90th percentile for Free Throw rate in four of their past five games and most recently had a Free Throw Rate of 51.4 against the Suns — they took 46 free throws in that game.
If they are able to repeat that tonight they should win handily so the Thunder will need to figure out how to defend without fouling tonight. I expect the Lakers offense to have success against OKC tonight.
This total seems a bit too low for two teams that play this fast and have exploitable matchup edges on each end of the floor.
OKC will be able to attack Russell and Reaves all night with Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey. I expect the Lakers’ point of attack defense to struggle containing the Thunder guards and for SGA to get to the free throw line at will.
The Lakers should be able to force the Thunder defense into rotations all night as they have no one capable of guarding Davis in single coverage. The Thunder also do not do a great job of limiting rim looks, second chances, and free throws and the Lakers excel at all of these things.
Did I mention that these are the second- and third-fastest Paced teams in the NBA? Take the over 232 tonight in LA and play it up to 233.5.
Pick: Over 232 — Play to 233.5
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