L.A. Lakers vs. OKC Thunder Tuesday NBA Preview & Free Pick

Lakers vs Thunder NBA Handicapping

The Lakers have finally found some balance – in the NBA standings anyway. For the first time since December (15-15), they find themselves with as many wins (30) as losses.

Los Angeles Lakers (30-30) at Oklahoma City Thunder (43-16)
Tuesday, March 5
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
9:30 p.m. EST
Odds: OKC -8.5 | O/U 214 at Bookmaker

Matchup | Preview

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They have a little momentum (5 wins in the last 6 games), and need to catch only Golden State, Utah or Houston to latch on to the final playoff spot.

The Rockets are playing like they want the last spot, but the Jazz are struggling and the Warriors are playing like limping antelopes on the Serengeti and are ripe for the picking.

But while things are definitely looking up for the Lakers as they try to avoid their first non-playoff season since 2004-05 when Kobe Bryant insisted that the team trade Shaquille O’Neal so Kobe could be the man, LA will more than have its hands full as it tries to erase a two-game loss-column deficit over the final several weeks.

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The Lakers have 22 games left, and while 6 of the last 8 are at home, 10 of the next 14 are away from Staples Center, starting with a biggie tonight in Oklahoma City that could again bury the Lakers under the .500 mark.

LA’s recent streak hasn’t included wins over any of the league’s heavyweights, and in tight games (a 99-98 victory over Atlanta and a 119-108 loss at Denver), coach Mike D’Antoni has been forced to tighten his rotation and add to the workloads of Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

Howard logged 40 minutes (getting 15 rebounds and scoring 11) in a have-to-have-it win over the Hawks after a similar effort against the Nuggets. [ad-6571516]

The road-centric schedule over the remainder of the month includes games at OKC, Atlanta and Indiana, but there are enough shooting gallery battles against teams playing out the string (New Orleans, Phoenix, Sacramento, Washington, Toronto) to keep Laker legs fresh. The playoffs are another issue, though – assuming the Lakers squeak in.

So the Lakers soldier on through the final month, pedal to the metal against the iron, easing up against weaker teams to preserve tire tread. Not knowing whether their best effort will be enough to get them into the playoffs and an anything-can-happen first-round series against the Thunder or Spurs.

THE PICK – Tonight’s game begins a nasty 8-day stretch for the Thunder, who see Tony Parker down for a month and think they can catch the Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West.

Besides the Lakers, between now and next Wednesday they face the Knicks, Celtics, Spurs and Jazz. OKC is 26-4 at home this season, and after losing to the Heat at home on Valentine’s Day they’ll be looking to assert themselves.

Lots of motivation on both sides here, but the Thunder have too many weapons and younger legs. OKC 107, LAKERS 101.

By Lawrence Paul

Lawrence Paul is back in the saddle as a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog. He's got an AMAZING knack for predicting when a team will have a letdown! Stick with our resident gambling experts sports betting tips all season long!