Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers -1 — (Total: 201)
If it seems like these team just played each other, you aren’t crazy, it because they did just meet five days ago. The game was in Oklahoma City and the Thunder swatted away the Lakers with relative ease, 100-85. This game has so many indirectly related subplots, that the actual basketball game seems almost secondary. First, there will be Derek Fisher’s emotional return to Los Angeles. Perhaps the emotion will be somewhat subdued, given there has been scarcely enough time to allow absence to make the collective hearts fonder, but given the long-time Laker’s fan-friendly persona and penchant for knocking down huge playoff baskets I imagine the ovation will be substantial when Fisher checks in for the first time.
The of course you have the rumbling mess bubbling between Andrew Bynum and Laker coach Mike Brown. Brown benched Bynum the other night (deserved so, by the way) after the 7’1’’ center launched an ill-advised three pointer early in the shot clock. Laker fans have to like that Bynum is feeling some assertiveness and confidence, but ought to be a little troubled by his post-games comments which were a less-than-subtle “screw you, I’m expanding my game” directed at Mike Brown. I’m not sure the Lakers have room for another volatile, petulant superstar…. Especially when that player is not quite a “super” star yet and is arguably only the third best player on the team.
It all makes for an interesting “which Laker team shows up” scenario in tomorrow night’s game. It is perfectly plausible to see the Lakers using all the controversy and distraction as rocket fuel and coming out on a mission; firing a daunting salvo across the young Thunder’s bow, letting them know that the road to the NBA Finals still takes a turn through Los Angeles. That seems totally reasonable, and I could see it happening.
I could also see them coming out, taking bad shots, bickering and looking old and slow while Durant and Westbrook go over for seventy points and the Thunder hanging a double-digit win on them.
So which way to wager?
How about these stats. The Lakers have gone OVER in eight of their last ten games. The OVER is 19-6-1 in their last 26 games overall (that’s a 76% rate). Meanwhile, the Thunder have gone OVER in 13 of their last 16 games against the Pacific division, five of seven overall and seven of ten.
I know the total is a pretty high one at 201 points, but I like when I can get numbers that are so overwhelmingly tilting in one direction. You can pick a winner in this game if you want to, but I’m not touching it. Instead, my money is on the over tonight.
Free Pick: OVER 201