Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Preview and Pick – Point Spread

L.A. Lakers (2-1 0-3 ATS) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1 2-1 ATS) Ford Center Oklahoma City, OK 8 PM EST Tuesday November 3, 2009 on Fox Sports Oklahoma
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Point Spread: Lakers -7.5/Thunder +7.5
Over/Under: 193.5

Tonight the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder host the defending champion
L.A. Lakers. I say surprising since they are over. 500 and have won 2 of
their first 3 games of the season. Tonight the Lakers look for their 10th
straight win over the Thunder dating back to their days when they were the
Sonics. Kevin Durant has to have a big game for the home
Thunder to have any chance to win, but he is 0-7 against the Lakers in his
young career. The Thunder recently suffered their 1st loss of the season
and they could not hit the water if they fell out of the boat in that game
shooting 34.3% from the floor. They will have to shoot better than that
is this game against a stacked Lakers’ team even though they may be without
Pau Gasol, who has yet to play this season with a hamstring injury.

In their last game the Thunder lost 83-74 to the Portland Trailblazers
on Sunday. The high scorer in that game for the thunder was Russell
going for 23 points on 8/12 shooting. For the game the
Thunder was ice-cold from the floor shooting 24/70 for a weak FG% of 34.3%.
On D the Thunder played decent, as they held the Blazers to 28/69 from the
floor for a FG% of 40.6%.

The Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 118-110 on Sunday and the high scorer was obviously Kobe Bryant going for 41 points on 15/29 shooting. For the game the Lakers were on fire shooting 46/87 for a scorching FG% of 52.9%. On D the Lakers held the Hawks to 40/89 shooting for a FG% of 44.9%.

This season the Lakers rank 16th in scoring (99 ppg) while the Thunder rank 28th (89 ppg). On defense the Thunder have played stellar, as they rank 2nd in points allowed (85 ppg) while the Lakers rank 13th (98.7 ppg). The Thunder do not have the best frontline, but they are hitting the boards this season with a rebounding differential of +2.3 rpg while the Lakers are at -2.7 rpg.

On the injury front PF Pau Gasol is day-to-day (likely out for 2 weeks) for the Lakers while the Thunder are not reporting any significant injuries.

The Thunder have one of the thinnest benches in the league so their starters
have to score most of the points. Kevin Durant (22 ppg), Russell Westbrook
(15.7 ppg), and Jeff Green (19.7 ppg) are a solid young
trio, but if even one of them struggles in this game they will be in trouble.

The Thunder do have better rebounding stats than the Lakers this season,
but to win this game they have to hit the boards hard. Keeping Lamar
(11 rpg) and Andre Bynum (8.7 rpg) off the
boards is vital for them.

Speaking of Bynum he has started the season on fire, as besides almost
9 boards a game he is also averaging 20.3 ppg. Thunder C Nenad Krstic
has to play good D on him and not allow the Lakers’ C to score easy buckets
down low or dominate the glass.

The Thunder will be lucky if they do not face Pau Gasol in this game, as it will just give the Lakers another scoring option and another force on the boards.

Bryant torched the Thunder last season scoring just under 30 ppg and shooting just under 50% from the floor. G Thabo Sefolosha has the task of containing Kobe in this game, which is never easy.

Since the Thunder do not have a lot of size they may have to run an up-tempo game and try to get many easy fast break points.

Ron Artest is not putting up great scoring numbers, but
his D has been solid and if he shuts down Green tonight the Lakers will
be in good shape.

Russell Westbrook is young and lightning quick and the Lakers’ backcourt has to play good D on him.

The Thunder are young and exciting and the Lakers have experience and know how to win. The Lakers have better match ups in this game and the Thunder have to play a great game in order to pull off the home upset.

Jason’s Pick: The Thunder are 2-1, but have not played the strongest teams and their offensive options are limited. The Lakers are much like last season, as they are playing down to their competition, which can be proven by their 0-3 ATS record this season. I love the home team Thunder getting +7.5!.