The NBA is set for its first big night of the new year, with over half the NBA playing on Wednesday night. Nine games are on the board for December 2. One of these games will be between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers. Both teams have put themselves in playoff positions early in the season. This game will be on at 10:30 PM Eastern time on ESPN.
The Thunder have gone 23-13 this season, which has secured them the third spot in the Western Conference standings for now. Oklahoma City is coming off a win in their last game against the Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder have won two of their last three games. Oklahoma City will look to build upon their recent play with another win on Wednesday night.
The Lakers struggled early in the season, but have overcome it to go 21-16. Los Angeles is currently sitting in sixth place of the Western Conference. The Lakers are coming off a solid win against the Sacramento Kings, which ended a two-game losing streak. Los Angeles will look to build this into a winning streak with a win against the Thunder.
Wednesday night’s matchup will be the first game of the season between the Thunder and the Lakers. Oklahoma City and Los Angeles will meet two more times on January 17 and April 2. The Thunder and the Lakers are both fighting for playoff spots right now, which should lead to a really competitive game on Wednesday night.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Thunder and the Lakers met up four times last season. Los Angeles hosted the first matchup of the season series. Kyle Kuzma had 18 points for the Lakers, but overall, he did not get much support. Paul George and Terrance Ferguson each scored 24 points. Oklahoma City’s starting lineup combined for 101 points, which helped lead the Thunder to a 133-96 win.
The second game of the season series shifted to Oklahoma City. Julius Randle scored 16 points for the Lakers. Carmelo Anthony had a big night, putting up 27 points. Steven Adams had 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook dropped another 19. The Thunder were able to pull off a 114-90 win at home.
The third game of the season series stayed in Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook had a big night, scoring 36 points. Paul George had another 26 points for the Thunder, but Oklahoma City. Brook Lopez put up 20 points for the Lakers. Los Angeles’ starting lineup combined for 82 points. The Lakers were able to pull off the 108-104 upset on the road.
The fourth and final game of the season series shifted back to Los Angeles. Paul George dropped 29 points and Steven Adams had another 13 points, but no other player dropped double-digit points for the Thunder. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points. Brandon Ingram had another 19 points to help lead the Lakers to a 106-81 win at home.
These two teams tied the season series last season, with the Thunder taking the first two games of the season series and Los Angeles taking the final two matchups. The Lakers have a much better lineup this season, but with LeBron James likely out for Wednesday night’s game it will be a similar lineup to last season.
Oklahoma City has not been hit too hard with injuries this season. The Thunder are currently missing Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson. Abrines has averaged 5.5 points per game this season, while Roberson has yet to play this season. Roberson is a huge part of Oklahoma City defensively, which will sting in the Thunder’s lineup.
The Lakers have been hit pretty hard with injuries this season. Los Angeles is currently missing Rajon Rondo after he underwent surgery on his finger. The Lakers could also be missing LeBron James and JaVale McGee. James has been the biggest change for Los Angeles this season and the Lakers will want to make sure he is fully recovered from his groin injury before bringing him back into the lineup.
Paul George has averaged 26.5 points and 8 rebounds per game this season. Russell Westbrook has once again averaged a triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists per game this season. Dennis Schroder has been a great player coming in off the bench. He has averaged 16 points per game. Steven Adams is averaging 15.5 points and 10 rebounds at the Center spot.
Kyle Kuzma has been doing really well this season. He has averaged 19 points and 6 rebounds per game this season. Brandon Ingram is averaging 16 points per game this season. Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all averaging 9.5 points per game this season.
With LeBron James likely out, Paul George will be going up against Ingram. Ingram has done solid offensively, but I believe that George could put up big numbers on him Wednesday night. Russell Westbrook will go up against Lonzo Ball, which I believe is a pretty big mismatch. Steven Adams could dominate in the paint as well, even if McGee is in the starting lineup.
Since LeBron James has been out of the lineup, the Lakers have gone 1-2. Los Angeles took a nice win against the Kings in their last game, but I believe that the Thunder will be able to pull off the win on the road. Oklahoma City has a lot of desirable matchups in this game. The Thunder has not been hit as hard with injuries, which should help give them an edge on Wednesday night.
BetOnline has Oklahoma City listed as a -5 ½ against the spread for Wednesday night’s game. The Thunder have the better team in my opinion, which makes this spread reasonable. Oklahoma City has lost the last two games to the Lakers and I do not believe Los Angeles will make it three in a row. I am taking the Thunder against the spread on Wednesday night.