The Thunder are on the dreaded Los Angeles back-to-back, with the Lakers on tap, and if past is prologue, they don’t have much of a chance at Staples Center tonight. Teams that have done the back-to-back in L.A. are 1-11 SU in the second game going back to 2018, which was before both teams were considered true championship contenders.
This season, the team on the second game of the back-to-back is 0-3 with an average margin of minus-15.3 points. But one team, the Raptors, did manage to cover, losing by 10 points on a 10.5-point spread.
Oklahoma City is not a team ripe to upset this trend. They’ve underachieved so far and their 0-5 record on the road is daunting. But they nearly pulled an upset over the Clippers on Monday, one of three close road calls—they lost by five in Utah and four in Houston—that are part of the Thunder entering the game a very respectable 8-5 against the spread on the year.
The Lakers, despite mostly being favorites this year, have gone 9-4 ATS, fourth in the NBA. The number has been migrating away from the 9.5-point open, and the Lakers are now giving a hefty 10.5 points to OKC according to FanDuel.com.
Thunder vs. Lakers Preview
One problem for the Thunder has been the team’s lack of an offensive focal point and the loss to the Clippers showed that. Dennis Schroder took 17 shots off the bench and made six of them, and if that’s the Thunder’s game plan again, the Lakers will gladly let Schroder fire away.
They probably won’t shoot 37.3 percent from the field again on Tuesday, but then, they shot 35.4 percent from the field in their last road game so, it’s possible. Either way, the game can be expected to be slow—the Lakers rank No. 22 in pace and the Thunder rank 19—and L.A.’s top-ranked defense should rule the day. The O/U is 211.5, and with the Thunder probably having a hard time cracking triple digits, the under is a good idea.
As for the 11 points, the Lakers are the choice. They can hammer the Thunder in the post, where L.A. is the second-most efficient and productive team in the NBA. The Thunder rank 24th defending the post. Thunder center Steven Adams has held his own over the years against Lakers big man Anthony Davis (they’ve split 16 games), but Davis does average 29.9 points, 50.1 percent shooting and 44.0 percent 3-point shooting against him, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Look for a big night from Davis. The Lakers must guard against a trap-game effect, with two days off coming up before a big four-game road trip that starts on Friday, but if they do that, even the inflated line is within reason.
Thunder vs. Lakers Pick & Prediction
PICK: Lakers, -10.5
SCORE PREDICTION: Lakers 109, Thunder 96