Free NBA Picks Thursday TNT Spurs at Lakers Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/3/2011
It’s probably the best Thursday NBA on TNT night of the season thus far, as it could easily be a preview of the two conference finals when the Miami Heat visit the Orlando Magic and the San Antonio Spurs are at the L.A. Lakers. I went with Spurs-Lakers really by the flip of a coin, but it’s also still rather amazing how good San Antonio has been this year and how little attention the team gets.
How the Teams Enter
I hate to use the word imploding, but the Lakers appeared on the verge of something not very good heading into Tuesday night’s game with Houston. L.A. had lost its previous two home games, an embarrassment against the Kings and then a flat effort in a 109-96 loss to Boston in an NBA Finals rematch. That began talk from GM Mitch Kupchak and former Lakers legend Magic Johnson that the team needed to make a deal to shake things up. Well, the fire might be out temporarily after L.A.’s 114-106 OT win over the Rockets. Kobe Bryant had 32 points and 11 assists to lead L.A. and Pau Gasol played very aggressively.
San Antonio, meanwhile, had won three in a row and 11 of 12 before the Spurs laid an egg on Tuesday in Portland, 99-86. Not a good way to start a season-high nine-game road trip – the “Rodeo Trip.” Manu Ginobili led the team with 17 points, but the Spurs somehow let the injury-decimated Blazers’ best remaining player, LaMarcus Aldridge, pretty much dominate. The Spurs have dropped back-to-back games just once this season.
Spurs at Lakers Story Lines
Lakers starting center Andrew Bynum missed Tuesday’s game because of a bone bruise in his left knee, but he said Wednesday he expects to play in this one. Before the game, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he didn't consider Bynum's injury serious, but wasn’t sure about how many games the Bynum would miss. He is averaging 11.4 points on 57.2 percent shooting and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Lakers forward Lamar Odom posted 20 points on eight-of-18 shooting and 20 rebounds while starting in Bynum's place against the Rockets, which he also did when Bynum missed the first 24 games of the year. He would start again if Bynum can’t go.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on how often Kobe shoots as he was a major ballhog in the Celtics loss, taking 29 of the Lakers' 66 shots (43.9 percent while he was on the floor). That was the 10th game in which Bryant has taken more than 40 percent of the Lakers' shots while on the court this season. In those 10 games, the Lakers are 3-7. When he is at less than 35 percent, the Lakers are 23-5.
The Spurs actually usually do well on the Rodeo Trip. San Antonio has a combined record of 44-20 in their eight previous road trips for a winning percentage of .688 (not including Tuesday’s loss). In the other road regular-season road games of those seasons, the Spurs are 151-111 for a winning percentage of .576. In the eight previous seasons, the Spurs have never lost more than two consecutive games on a Rodeo Trip.
The Spurs beat the Lakers, 97-82, as 3.5-point home favorites back on Dec. 28 in the only meeting so far this season (total went ‘under’). DeJuan Blair had 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Spurs and Tony Parker had 23. But Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Kobe and Gasol all had subpar scoring nights. Bynum didn’t play in that game. Los Angeles made a season-low 35.4 percent from the field.
Spurs at Lakers Betting Odds and Key Trends
There is no line or total as of this writing because of Bynum’s status. Look for it to open around L.A. -3.5 whether Bynum plays or not. San Antonio is 15-6 on the road and 13-7-1 ATS. Los Angeles is 19-7 at home but just 10-16 ATS.
The Spurs are 6-2 ATS in their past eight after a loss.
The Lakers are a crazy 1-9 ATS in their past 10 Thursday games.
The ‘under’ is 11-2 in the Spurs’ past 13 games.
The ‘under’ is 14-6 in L.A.’s past 20 home games.
The ‘under’ is 6-0 in the past six meetings in L.A.
San Antonio is just 1-4 ATS in the past five at Staples.
NBA Picks: Spurs at Lakers TNT Thursday Predictions
I frankly don’t think it matters if the Lakers have Bynum or not tonight. They already have flunked big home tests against the Celtics and Heat this year, so Phil Jackson should have them plenty ready. Plus they no doubt are ready to put the Spurs in their place and remind them who the top dogs still are. Take L.A. and give the points and also go with the’ under’.
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