NBA Picks: Lakers vs. Thunder

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 1:00 PM GMT

The Oklahoma City Thunder play host to the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, and while the Thunder are the clear favorites, should we add a Lakers cover to our NBA picks tonight?

The Oklahoma City Thunder have won 18-straight home games versus Western Conference opponents, but they’ve failed to produce a winning against-the-spread record versus top offensive teams this season.

Let’s take a closer look at the NBA odds for their matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night, with the opening tip scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT. 

Level playing field

Los Angeles has reached the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 28, as it captured a 99-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks as 5.5-point home favorites Sunday, while going UNDER the posted total of 206.5. 

The Lakers have won five of their last six games, with the only setback in that span coming in the final game of a back-to-back situation on the road versus the Denver Nuggets. 

Earned a split

Oklahoma City returns home after splitting a two-game road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets, as it currently occupies the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings behind the San Antonio Spurs.

Check the updated NBA Championship Odds, to see what the books think about OKC's chances of winning the title.

The Thunder are 26-8 straight up (SU) and 20-13-1 against the spread (ATS) in March the last two-plus seasons, with the UNDER going 33-31 in that situation. 

Bryant and Durant are the ones to watch

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has averaged 34.8 points per game in his last five contests, as he currently ranks third in the NBA in scoring (27.7).  He knocked down 13 of 27 shots from the field last time out—finishing with 34 points versus the Hawks.

Kevin Durant has been able to do whatever he wants on the offensive end in three meetings with Los Angeles during the 2012-13 pro basketball season—averaging 37.7 points.  He combines with point guard Russell Westbrook to form the league’s highest scoring duo.

Home-road dichotom

NBA handicappers may take a simplistic approach when wagering on this affair, considering the Lakers are 5-13 SU on the road versus conference foes, while the Thunder are 19-1 SU when hosting such opponents.

Oklahoma City has covered the number in its last seven home games versus teams that possess a losing road record, while Los Angeles is 4-9 ATS away from the Staples Center when taking on winning home teams.

[gameodds]5/220286/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

With only one number available on the SBR odds page for this affair, I’m going to recommend that readers back the Lakers as one of their NBA picks Tuesday night, as a potential suspension to Thunder forward Serge Ibaka looms large. 

Oklahoma City is 10-11 ATS versus teams that average 99-plus points per game this season, which makes this number a bit inflated in my opinion with Los Angeles ranking sixth in the NBA in scoring (102.3 ppg).

NBA Pick:  Los Angeles Lakers +8.5 at BetOnline