The 10-12 Oklahoma City Thunder are barely below .500, but they’re still sitting in the third-last spot in the Western Conference. The young squad is coming off a 1-1 series split with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who sit dead last in the West with just six wins. It gets a lot tougher for the Thunder on Monday night when they head to Los Angeles to take on the 18-6 Lakers.
Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Lakers To Assert Dominance Over Young Thunder
The Lakers had a bit of a hiccup a couple of weeks ago when they lost two straight, but that’s behind them now and the defending champs are back on a new four-game winning streak, with their latest triumph coming in double overtime over the lowly Detroit Pistons. LeBron James taking that game by the scruff of the neck in the second overtime period aside, it was not a very impressive performance from a team like the Lakers.
Their previous game, however, showed why the Lakers are such serious contenders to repeat as NBA champions this season. Down 12 at the half to a very good Denver Nuggets team, the Lakeshow proceeded to outscore their foes 68-35 in the second half to turn what seemed like it would be a close Nuggets win into a runaway for the Lakers.
The Thunder are likely to be close to whole after most of their backcourt missed a game or two last week, but a full OKC squad will still be no match for L.A. When the two teams first met back on January 13th, the Lakers beat the Thunder 128-99 and Dennis Schroder and Alex Caruso had Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in hell. Al Horford didn’t play in that game, however, and after putting up a season-high 26 points in his last game, he could be a factor.
We’re not keen to wager on a double-digit NBA point spread so we’re going to go with an alternate -8.5 point spread for the Lakers at decent -200 NBA odds (22Bet). The Thunder have been a solid team against the spread this season, putting up an 11-10-1 mark overall, but they’ve also been given a ton of huge spreads and have only been the favorite for one game so far.
Another reason we like the Lakers is the rest factor. Sure, both of these teams last played on Saturday, but on Monday the Thunder will be playing their fourth game in six days while the Lakers will only be playing their third in seven games. That extra rest should benefit L.A. as they and their second-ranked defense (104.6 points allowed per game) look to clamp down and exasperate the young and struggling 25th-ranked Thunder offense (107.5 points per game).
We don’t expect the Thunder to get 20’d like they did in the last meeting between these teams, but they’re still a little ways away from giving a team like the Lakers real trouble unless someone other than SGA can emerge alongside the young Canadian as a consistent secondary offensive weapon. We doubt that will happen against the stingy Lakers defense.
- Los Angeles has won 4 of the past 5 meetings SU
- Los Angeles is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 against Western Conference foes
- Oklahoma City is 1-5 SU in their last 6 against Pacific Division opponents
- Los Angeles is 11-2 SU in their last 13 against Northwest Division opponents
More NBA Free Pickssee more
The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.