The Thunder are talent-poor at the best of times but without SGA, they have to look to 3&D extraordinaire Lu Dort for offense. As OKC is discovering — and our NBA picks highlight — that isn’t easy, and won’t be against the Lakers tonight.
The LeBron-less Los Angeles Lakers have little time to catch their collective breath between games, taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles is playing the second night of a back-to-back and its third game in four days, and missing LeBron James for the foreseeable future due to a foot injury. The Lakers battled the Grizzlies hard for two quarters last night before getting run off the floor in the second half.
Oklahoma City is also on the second game of two straight outings and has lost four in a row since the All-Star break, playing without standout Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. However, OKC’s up-tempo attack poses a challenge to L.A.’s tired legs and oddsmakers have a short spread set for this matchup.
I run down the spread and total as well as give my best NBA picks and predictions for Lakers at Thunder on March 1.
Lakers vs Thunder best odds
Lakers vs Thunder picks and predictions
Some guys have answered that call and some guys have shot 16-for-48 from the floor. That guy is Luguentz Dort. Primarily known for his defensive efforts, Dort has struggled to step into a scoring role with SGA out.
On top of shooting just 33% from the field in the past three games, he got the hook after only 21 minutes in last night’s contest with the Kings. Dort finished 4-for-14 with 11 points and a minus-28 rating on the night, losing minutes to Aaron Wiggins and Kenrich Williams.
He did manage outputs of 17 and 18 points in the two games prior versus Sacramento and Phoenix and has collected 21 of his total 46 points in the past three games from beyond the arc (46% of his scoring). But Dort faces a stiffer test from a new-look Lakers defense enjoying a notable improvement in defensive rating against some quality offensive teams.
Los Angeles is among the better clubs at defending the perimeter, where Dort does most of his damage, and has checked its last three foes to just 31% success from distance. The Lakers have been notably sticky with corner 3-pointers – Dort’s favorite shot – to the tune of less than 26% against over the past six games.
With no Gilgeous-Alexander to worry about, L.A. can play OKC straight up and get its heels above the 3-point arc. Dort has notoriously bad touch in the paint and is shooting 45.3% on 2-point field goal attempts, including just 46.1% within 10 feet of the basket.
Dort’s point total for tonight is bouncing between 16.5 and 15.5 at sportsbooks and we’ll pay a little extra to go Under the high end at -125.
My best bet: Lu Dort Under 16.5 points (-125)
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Lakers vs Thunder spread analysis
Los Angeles opened as big as 1.5-point road chalk following the conclusion of Tuesday’s action and that spread quickly jumped over the fence to Thunder -1 in the first hour of action. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, this line is moving back toward the hosts after Anthony Davis was ruled out.
The new-look Lakers were rolling, with wins in three of their last four, but James injured his foot in Sunday’s win over Dallas and could miss significant time in this key chunk of the schedule.
Los Angeles went from +3.5 to as high as +9.5 when LeBron was ruled out for Tuesday’s tilt and L.A. desperately missed his efforts on both ends of the floor in the second half at Memphis. Los Angeles couldn’t get key stops or buckets to break the Grizzlies’ runs, and a three-point halftime lead quickly got flipped into a 12-point loss.
The Thunder enter Wednesday scrambling for a victory after losing a home-and-home set with Sacramento and dropping four in a row, sliding behind the Lakers in the Western Conference standings and sitting 1.5 games back of 10th place (final play-in spot).
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has sat out the past three games with ankle and abdominal injuries and is now in the league’s COVID health and safety protocols, which means he’s more than likely out again tonight. The Thunder have done well to produce without him the past three games, but faced soft defensive opposition in a short-handed Phoenix squad and two matchups with Sacramento.
These Western rivals met back in January, with OKC edging the Lakers 133-130 as 6.5-point underdogs in La-La Land. However, taking tidbits from that run-in is tough, considering L.A.’s current roster and rotation are very different – and missing James – and the Thunder got 30 points from Gilgeous-Alexander.
Overall, OKC remains the best bet in the NBA at 35-23-3 ATS on the year (60%) but has failed to cover in each of those last four losses (0-2-2 ATS). The Thunder are 18-13 ATS at home. Los Angeles owns a 14-18-1 ATS record on the road, part of its 29-32-1 ATS count on the season.
Lakers vs Thunder Over/Under analysis
This Over/Under total opened as high as 230.5 points, dipped to as low as 228.5, and has settled in at a market consensus of 229 points as of Wednesday morning.
In terms of pace rating, the Lakers and Thunder rank among the top tempo teams in the NBA, and both thrive in transition. Their January meeting commanded a closing Over/Under of 241 points, which these teams blew out of the water. However, both sides shot the ball extremely well, and this time around their missing their respective leading scorers and both playing for the second straight night.
While the second half against Memphis got away from the Lakers, we have seen big improvements on defense from this squad since shaking up the roster before the All-Star break. Los Angeles owns an advanced defensive rating of 107.7 over the past six games versus 114.3 before that stretch, and has gone 1-4-1 O/U in those outings.
Oklahoma City’s defensive woes have been its undoing with SGA out of action. It’s slipped to 21st in defensive rating since the break (ranked 11th pre-break) and has allowed those four foes to fire up an average of 122.8 points. Granted, two of those games came against Sacramento’s league-leading offense.
The Thunder are 2-1-1 O/U in those outings and sit at 35-26 O/U on the year, with a 19-12 O/U count inside the Paycom Center. The Lakers are 19-14 O/U as visitors, part of a 32-30 O/U count on the season.
Lakers vs Thunder betting trend to know
The Under is 6-2 in Lakers’ last eight games following a straight-up loss. Find more NBA betting trends for Lakers vs. Thunder.
Lakers vs Thunder game info
|Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, OK
|Wednesday, March 1, 2023
|8:30 p.m. ET
|Bally Sports OK, Spectrum SportsNet