The Los Angeles Lakers have meshed more quickly than anyone could have predicted in this early NBA season. The 12-2 Lakers will aim to maintain their league-best record today as they visit the 5-9 Oklahoma City Thunder (8 p.m. ET Friday).
Lakers and OKC played each other in Los Angeles on Tuesday, with the Lakers winning 112-107 behind 34 points from Anthony Davis and 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists from LeBron James.
Will this game be another close Laker win? Will it be a blowout Lakers win this time? Or will the Thunder get an upset win? We’ll discuss some main storylines that will swing this game one way or the other. We’ll finish with a couple of betting recommendations for this game as part of our final LA Lakers vs OKC predictions.
Is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s Surge for Real?
The Lakers have been pretty consistent this season. They have an NBA-best 12-2 record, after all.
However, Lakers shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has not been a good example of his team’s consistency. KCP started the season horribly, got hot for a few games, cooled off drastically and is now on fire again. In his last three games, he is averaging 14 points in 26.3 minutes per game on a 75.3 true-shooting percentage. In the four games prior to that, he was at 2.5 points in 12.3 minutes per game on a 27.8 true-shooting percentage.
Of course, KCP shooting well is always going to be a boost for the Lakers’ offense. If he is hitting shots, that all but guarantees a Laker win. If he’s off, Los Angeles’ offense might have a chance of sputtering a bit. In fact, KCP’s two scoreless games this year just happened to be the Lakers’ only two losses of the season.
Is Steven Adams Ready to Make More of an Impact?
When thinking of NBA big men who are great at bumping bodies down low and holding their ground, Adams is probably one of the first ones who comes to mind. He has always been a strong rebounder and defender who has the size and brute strength to make sure no one pushes him around.
This season has been a down campaign for him so far, unfortunately. He has been bothered by a knee injury that has cut into his minutes, as well as his scoring and rebounding numbers. His defense has been up and down.
Adams’ ability inside will be tested again today by the Lakers’ big man trio of Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, as well as constant drives to the rim by superstar LeBron James. Adams didn’t do too well in that record on Tuesday, as Davis, McGee and Howard combined for 45 points, 19 rebounds, six steals and eight blocks on 17-of-31 shooting. The big New Zealander had just two points, six rebounds, no blocks and no steals himself.
If Adams looks affected by his knee injury or doesn’t bring the proper amount of intensity to the game, the Lakers could run away with this contest.
Will Dennis Schroder Play Like the Best Reserve Again?
Schroder is a quintessential sixth man in the NBA. The 6’1” guard is extremely explosive on offense, but his shooting stroke is streaky and he is uneven as a facilitator and defender. That’s why he is best suited to a bench role where he isn’t relied upon as much.
Sometimes, he can take over games with his offense, like he did against the Lakers on Tuesday. He pumped in 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field in 30 minutes, putting the visiting Thunder in a great position to steal an upset win until Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained a dagger three-pointer with 55 seconds left in the game.
At other times, Schroder’s impact is very noticeable in negative ways. He will have games where he shoots poorly, but he stays aggressive anyway and ends up wasting possessions with silly shots and turnovers.
Schroder needs to be aggressive, but smart in this game if the Thunder are going to win or come close in this contest.
Our Betting Preview’s Los Angeles Lakers vs Oklahoma City Thunder Predictions & Picks Verdict
I look at Tuesday’s game and see that the Lakers were just able to eke out a victory despite a good three-point shooting performance and Steven Adams being clearly affected by his knee. The fact that Avery Bradley remains out could mean another big performance from Dennis Schroder against a Lakers defense that isn’t super quick on the perimeter.
At home, the Thunder have also been very good this season, with a 5-3 record and a plus-5.5 differential. I see this contest being another close one where two veteran teams lock in with a playoff mindset to play a slow-paced, tightly contested game. These are the LA Lakers vs OKC predictions for this preview:
- The top rated U.S. online bookmakers make the Lakers 4.5 or 5-point favorites on the road in this contest. For the first of the picks, I recommend placing your money on the Thunder +5 @ -110 with Bookmaker. It is -115 with Bovada.
- Both squads are defensive-minded veteran teams that should bring their A game in this contest. Usually, that means that the defense tends to outplay the offense. My advice is to take the under 212 total points @ -110 with Bovada or Bookmaker.