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Hungry Thunder Could Benefit From Lakers Letdown

Chris Paul dribbling a ball while Georges Niang defends him

After locking up top spot in the West on Monday, the Lakers can start fine-tuning for the playoffs against an Oklahoma City squad still battling for position in the conference standings. LA has won both meetings this season, including a 125-110 decision on January 11 without either LeBron James or Anthony Davis in the lineup.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Los Angeles Lakers
  • Date/Time: August 5, 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Arena: HP Field House
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Lakers -6.5 | O/U 219 (Line History)
  • Thunder vs Lakers Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Many sportsbooks had yet to open a line for this game as of Tuesday night, likely waiting for news on the Lakers’ projected rotation. OKC is 26-10 ATS this season as an underdog and has covered 13 of the last 19 meetings.

Oklahoma City News & Notes

The Thunder are thin in the backcourt these days and it showed in Monday’s 121-113 overtime loss to the short-handed Nuggets. After Shai-Gilgeous Alexander was whistled for his fifth foul midway through the third quarter, OKC coach Billy Donovan used shooting guard Luguentz Dort at point guard so 35-year-old starter Chris Paul could get some rest.

Backup point guard Dennis Schroder is unavailable after leaving the bubble for the birth of his second child, while shooting guard Terrance Ferguson also missed Monday’s game with a bruised leg and may be limited if he suits up Wednesday.

“I don’t think we had a great flow or a great rhythm,” Donovan told the Oklahoman. The Thunder have committed 36 turnovers through two games in Orlando, out of character for a squad that committed just 13.6 per contest before the shutdown.

Los Angeles News & Notes

After clinching top spot in the West on Monday with a 116-108 win over the Jazz, the Lakers could take their foot off the gas pedal and sit some starters for the rest of the seeding round. But LA coach Frank Vogel has already said that won’t be the case, telling the Southern California News Group that he intends to use his top players Wednesday and again the following day against Houston.

How much Vogel will play stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis remains in question, especially after Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out the entire second half Tuesday in the East-leading Bucks’ outright loss to Brooklyn as 18-point favorites. Davis is coming off a 42-point, 12-rebound effort on Monday and is averaging 38 points in the Lakers’ two wins in the bubble.

Betting Pick: Thunder +6.5

The Thunder have won 11 of their last 15 games following a loss and are playing for positioning in the West standings. Meanwhile, I don’t expect James and Davis to see extensive playing time on the front end of a back-to-back.

Shark Bites
  • The Thunder are 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games.
  • The UNDER is 5-1 in the Lakers’ last 6 games.
  • The Thunder are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 games vs the Lakers.