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Lakers vs. Thunder: NBA Picks and Predictions

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Lakers vs. Thunder: NBA Picks and Predictions
LeBron James #23 of the LA Lakers is defended by Lu Dort #5 of the OKC Thunder. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

The Lakers enter Wednesday the best team in basketball at 9-3, despite the fact that the team’s been on cruise control for the entirety of the season and has lacked a lot of decisive wins. Still, Tuesday’s win over Houston was a stomp. Will Los Angeles carry that momentum over to Wednesday on a back-to-back? We’ll tell you where to look at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021 – 07:00 PM ET at Chesapeake Energy Arena

Fatigue Factor

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have appeared on every single injury report this season, so it’s no surprise that we’re left to question whether or not they’ll both suit up on the back-to-back against Oklahoma City. All indications are that James will play, given he’s played back-to-backs all season long, but he could be without Davis, who is dealing with a jammed toe and listed as questionable for Wednesday. Though he played through a toe injury on Tuesday, Davis went for x-rays after the win due to an apparent re-aggravation, so it’s unclear if the Lakers will decide to rest him.

In other injury news, Wesley Matthews has been ruled out and will miss another game with an Achilles issue, giving more time to Talen Horton-Tucker off the bench.

Davis sitting would likely mean that either Montrezl Harrell or Kyle Kuzma starts at power forward, with the latter probably more likely considering he’s been in the starting lineup at times this season. We’ll assume Davis isn’t playing, just to be safe, and project-out if the Lakers appear as brolic with their star center on the bench. 

With Davis off the court this season, Los Angeles’ net rating has dropped to just +4.4 points per 100 possessions, versus +10.7 with him on. When he is off the floor, the Lakers are scoring 12 fewer points per 100 possessions, though they are actually allowing five fewer. However, going to Kuzma and Harrell might not be the biggest deal in the world against Oklahoma City, who is allowing the third-highest field goal percentage to opposing power forwards at 52.7%, and the fourth-most rebounds at 12.7 per game.

A win here would push the Lakers to a perfect 7-0 on the road, and 2-1 on back-to-backs. That being said, in sports betting, Los Angeles has failed to cover in both of its back-to-back games. They have covered in four of six road games, though. The Lakers had also failed to cover in four of five games before back-to-back blowouts of the Rockets, and the Thunder, one of the league’s worst teams, could be what the doctor further prescribed to rid those ATS blues.

Fighting the Narrative

Did I say one of the league’s worst teams? Well, yeah, the Thunder are one of the league’s worst teams, but they’re not really playing like it.

A loss to San Antonio on Tuesday — a game in which they led for most of the first three quarters — snapped a run of four wins in five games for the Thunder, who have impressed this season thanks to some great play from 22-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA has seen more minutes than anyone on the roster, by a considerable margin, and has led OKC in scoring with 20.9 per game. 

Despite the loss (and failure to cover the short spread) on Tuesday, the Thunder have still been one of the best cover teams in the league standings at 6-4 against the spread. They haven’t run into a buzzsaw quite like the Lakers, though.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Wednesday will be a test as to just how serious this Thunder team, riding players like Darius Bazley and Lu Dort, is about winning games in what’s very clearly the beginning of a long rebuild. They’ve really only played three quality opponents all year — the Jazz, Nets, and Heat — the former two were struggling when OKC ran into them, the latter blew them out. Because of that’ I’m not sure I’m ready to believe in the Thunder continuing their quest to become ATS World Champions.

Then again, this is a hungry team, and 9.5 points is a lot when you consider Davis may not suit up for this one. With my NBA picks, I’m going to go with Oklahoma City right now, but if Los Angeles plays Davis I’ll be inclined to lay the points. Definitely wait to play this one.

NBA Pick: Thunder +9.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Thunder +9.5(-110)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.