Free NBA Picks: Lakers at Thunder Odds
by Aaron Smith - 12/12/2013
The Los Angeles Lakers, with Kobe Bryant on the court, will travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder Friday night in a marquee matchup. Bryant missed the Lakers first 19 games before returning for the last two. The Lakers were unable to win either of those games, and they’ll have an even tougher matchup Friday night in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City is widely considered to be the team to beat this year in a crowded Western Conference Playoff race. This game will serve as a bit of a measuring stick for the Lakers to see if they can measure up against the best of the best. The Thunder are always tough at home, and they have been playing some terrific basketball of late.
It’s good for the NBA to have a star like Bryant back on the court. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the other side in this one, there will be plenty of star power on display in this contest.
Lakers at Thunder Betting Story Lines
The Los Angeles Lakers were 10-9 before Bryant returned to the lineup. They are 0-2 since his return to the lineup. Do I think that means that the Lakers are better without Bryant on the court? Not at all. Still, the worse the Lakers perform right as Bryant returns will lead to a lot of questions in the media, and that never helps a team. It’s important to remember that Bryant is coming off a major injury, and he is nowhere close to the player he previously was right now. He’ll need some time to get back into the swing of things, and a star coming back to the lineup can sometimes hurt a team initially since it takes some major adjustments.
Even with Bryant back, the Lakers injury list is a long one. Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jordan Farmar were the team’s top three point guards heading into the season. All three of them are out with major injuries. Who’s left to run the point guard spot? That’s where the Lakers major backcourt problems show up. Mike D’Antoni said on Thursday that he will play Kobe Bryant at point guard on Friday night. The Lakers backup at the point guard spot will be shooting guard Xavier Henry.
Bryant has only had two games back from injury, and now he’ll be tested in a huge way by being forced to play point guard. I understand that D’Antoni doesn’t have many options, but I don’t like the decision. The last thing the Lakers can afford to do is get Bryant hurt again, and after all the talk of saving him up when he first comes back, the team is now starting him at point guard!
Oklahoma City is 10-0 at home so far this year. The Thunder dominated Memphis on the road Wednesday night, and this team is playing their best basketball of the season right now. Westbrook looks completely healthy now, and that makes Oklahoma City the team to beat in the West. Oklahoma City is far more balanced than almost any other team in basketball. Durant and Westbrook dominate on the outside, and Serge Ibaka is turning into a nice interior threat. The Thunder have multiple rebounding options in the paint.
Oklahoma City is no longer a team that has to outscore the opposition. The Thunder are second in the NBA in field goal percentage defense. Oklahoma City’s depth is a major positive for the team as well. There are 10 or 11 guys on this roster who can contribute on any given night.
Lakers at Thunder NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
Oklahoma City is favored by 10.5 points in this one, according to odds from BookMaker. The posted total has been set at 209 points. The Lakers are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games. They are just 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games against a team with a winning record. The Thunder are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall. Oklahoma City is 5-1 ATS in their last six home games. The “over” is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these teams.
Free NBA Picks: Lakers at Thunder Betting Predictions
This is a spot where the Lakers injury issues in the backcourt will be a major problem. Westbrook thrives on mismatches, and he has to be licking his chops in preparation for this game. Oklahoma City is playing terrific basketball, and the Lakers are still trying to find their way. The line is pretty big, but the Thunder should coast to a big win here. Oklahoma City humbles the Lakers and shows them how far they have to go to be competitive against the elite teams in the conference. Lay the points with the Thunder.
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