Lakers vs. Thunder Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction | NBA Betting Preview (March 1)

Lakers vs. Thunder Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction | NBA Betting Preview (March 1) article feature image

Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Davis.

  • The Lakers are slight road favorites tonight against the Thunder.
  • Stars LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are expected to miss the game. So, which team has the edge?
  • Joe Dellera makes his Lakers vs. Thunder pick below.

Editor's note: Since this post was published, Anthony Davis has been ruled out.

Lakers vs. Thunder Odds

Lakers Odds-1
Thunder Odds+1
Time8 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Lakers and Thunder are clinging to their playoff hopes by a thread as both sit with 33 losses on the outside of the Play-In Tournament.

Let's break down who will take this critical game to help their playoff chances.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers lost on Tuesday night to the Grizzlies in their first game without LeBron James, who's expected to miss at least two weeks due to a foot injury. Additionally, D'Angelo Russell (ankle) is listed as doubtful, so the team will continue to lean on Dennis Schroder and Austin Reaves to facilitate the offense.

Life without James is tough, but this version of the Lakers stands somewhat of a chance with Anthony Davis available along with their trade-deadline acquisitions.

As a whole this season, Los Angeles has been brutal without James, with a -8.5 point differential per 100 possessions in the possessions he has not played. However, their intended starting lineup of Schroder, Troy Brown, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Davis has a +13.5 Net Rating across their 37 possessions together, per Cleaning the Glass. That's obviously a small sample size but it is relevant.

Even if we look at just the minutes with Davis, Beasley, and Vanderbilt, they're a +10.8 across 119 possessions. This is also an improvement on the Lakers' early season numbers without James.

Ultimately, Los Angeles will have the best player on the floor tonight, and Davis will need to play as such. On the season, he has averaged 27.8 points, 16.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 3.7 blocks/steals without James in 10 games. Sportsbooks have adjusted for his rebound total and moved it to 15.5, a number he has still exceeded in eight consecutive games without James, but the margins are a bit slim. It's a plus matchup for Davis, and he needs to capitalize on it for the Lakers to win.

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Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder have stumbled out of the break, seeing their losing streak extend to four games as they've plummeted to 13th in the West. They have one player on the injury report that truly matters: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He has ankle, abdominal and health protocols issues and should be considered doubtful but closer to out tonight.

SGA is by far the best player on the Thunder, who are 3-4 without him this season, including three straight losses to the Suns and Kings (twice). While the Thunder did not get blown out in those matchups, they struggled to contend. When SGA is off the floor, the Thunder have a point differential of -3.5 per 100 possessions. OKC struggles to score, but the defense keeps them in games.

One major issue for the Thunder is their expected starting lineup is abysmal. That lineup of Josh Giddey, Isaiah Joe, Lu Dort, Jaylin Williams and Jalen Williams has scored a strong 121.2 points per 100 possessions, but that unit has allowed a whopping 143.9 points per 100 to the tune of a -22.7 point differential (in a small sample size of 66 possessions), per Cleaning the Glass. That type of defensive effort is neither a sustainable nor a winning formula.

Lakers-Thunder Pick

Editor's note: Since this post was published, Anthony Davis has been ruled out.

Both the Lakers and the Thunder will likely be without their leaders tonight in James and Gilgeous-Alexander, but the edge has to go to the Lakers. Los Angeles is significantly improved after the trade deadline, and this roster still complements Anthony Davis, even if it was truly designed for James.

The Thunder have been feisty without SGA, but I struggle to see them matching up with A.D. on the interior. I'll take the Lakers on the road tonight.

Pick: Lakers – 1 (Bet to -1.5)

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Nick Sterling
Jun 24, 2024 UTC