Oklahoma City come into Los Angeles following a patch of indifferent form through the end of December, a run of five games heading into the new year that saw just two wins, a victory over the disappointing Suns in Phoenix followed by a new year’s eve victory over Dallas.
The Lakers enjoyed a 26 point victory over championship favourites Golden State on Christmas Day, a result even more impressive given that LeBron James would feature for just over 21 minutes of playing time.
The Lakers ended December winning one of three games with James out of the lineup, the lone victory being a seven point win at home over the Kings.
LeBron James has not played since the Lakers’ Christmas Day matchup with Golden State, sitting for the Lakers’ final three games of 2018 due to a groin injury. James will not play Wednesday evening vs Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City currently sit second in the NBA Northwest Division, 1.5 games behind first placed Denver and third in the Western Conference, behind both Golden State and Denver.
The Lakers meanwhile share second place in the NBA Pacific Division with cross town rivals the Clippers 3.5 games behind division and conference leaders, Golden State.
The Thunder have performed slightly ahead of bookmaker expectations so far this season, posting a 20-16 record against the spread and 10-9 against the spread on the road.
Conversely the Lakers have performed slightly below bookmaker expectations, posting a 16-20 record against the spread and 8-11 record against the spread at home.
In terms of points totals, both teams have scored less than bookmaker expectations, with the Thunder posting a 17-19 record against the Over, while the Lakers have gone 14-23 against the Over so far this season.
With James out, the Thunder enter the matchup as firm 5.5-point road favourites with the Over Under set at 229.5 points.
The Lakers may be without James, but his supporting cast has been more than serviceable in his absence.
Kyle Kuzma has averaged over 40 minutes and 25 points per game with James out of the lineup while Brandon Ingram has stepped up having now recovered from a lingering ankle issue early in the season.
The impact of a star player is often overestimated by casual bettors. With this in mind, the LeBron-less Lakers are the value play here with the handicap (at time of writing) posted at +5.5 points, a line that could easily drop to +4.5 points by gametime.
Expect to see the Lakers’ energised at home coming off a much needed two day break in a game that should see plenty of points.
Lakers vs Thunder: Five Best Bets
- Los Angeles Lakers Handicap +5.5 points (odds 1.90 at bet365)
- Total Points Over 229.5 points (odds 1.90 at Ladbrokes)
- Los Angeles Lakers Total Points Over 112.5 points (odds 1.87 at Unibet)
- Oklahoma City Thunder Total Points Over 117.5 points (odds 1.92 at Unibet)
- Los Angeles Lakers 2nd Half Handicap +1.5 points (odds 1.94 at Unibet)
By Andrew Brocker, author of the bettingexpert.com Betting Academy
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News