Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Jan. 10:
9-7 ATS, 0-1 ML (minus-1.15 units), 11-6 Totals
Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
Free NBA Pick: Lakers ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
They can’t all be gems. We’re telling you right off the bat, Thursday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t exactly dripping with value. There’s not much synergy here for our NBA picks; neither team is doing well against the spread, the Lakers have been going “under” a lot, and the Thunder have been going “over” – much to our benefit here at the home office.
But pick we must, and a small wager on the Lakers seems like the best option. LeBron James (plus-5.9 OBPM, plus-1.9 DBPM) is confirmed out for at least another two games with his tender left groin, and generally speaking, the betting public overreacts when star players are taken out of the lineup. We’d be more confident about this pick if L.A. wasn’t 4-7 SU and 4-6-1 ATS since James last played on Christmas Day, but there you go.
Sing We Here Noel
We’d love to keep pounding the “over” with Oklahoma City, of course. Nerlens Noel (minus-1.1 OBPM, plus-6.7 DBPM) is still in concussion protocol for the Thunder as we go to press, robbing them of precious stopping power down low. But the “under” is 8-3 for the LeBron-less Lakers, including each of their last six games. Woof.
We do have that January 2 game to use as something of a template. The Thunder were 5-point road faves on the NBA odds board when the Lakers rolled into town, and after a fourth-quarter rally by Le Tonnere, the final score was OKC 107, L.A. 100 (Under 229.5). But Noel was part of the bench mob for Oklahoma City, and Kyle Kuzma (minus-0.3 OBPM, minus-0.9 DBPM) missed the second half with a bruised lower back, opening the door for OKC to steal the victory.
This was also something of a statement game for Paul George (plus-4.1 OBPM, plus-1.3 DBPM). The L.A. crowd really lit into George; he could have come back to his hometown as a free agent to play alongside LeBron, but took the big money to stay in Oklahoma City – and it’s definitely working out for him thus far. Anyway, George dumped 37 points on the Lakers, with four steals for good measure.
It’s also worth noting that reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook (plus-1.5 OBPM, plus-4.8 DBPM) shot 3-for-20 in that game. Westbrook is playing his worst basketball of the season right now, although most of the pain has been at the other end of the court, where his defensive rating has plunged (soared?) from 96 in December to 112 in January. If Westbrook isn’t playing D, and Noel isn’t in uniform, maybe the Lakers can take advantage and do us a solid in their rematch.