Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Tip Off: 9pm CST
Where to Watch: FSOK
The Oklahoma City Thunder are headed into the Staples Center on a high note, defeating the Timberwolves in nail-biting fashion in their previous matchup. Now sitting at 10-12, the Thunder are on a push back to .500 and the journey could be reached here. This is not going to be a handout for the Thunder however as they will square off against the #2 team in the league in the 18-6 Los Angeles Lakers.
Oklahoma City will be left without Mike Muscala (concussion), Isaiah Roby (foot), Theo Maledon (health and safety), and George Hill (thumb) for tonight’s contest.
The Los Angeles Lakers have yet to comment on the status LeBron James in the hours leading up to tonight’s contest, but all recent reports have linked to him being on track to start vs. the Thunder tonight.
LeBron’s co-star in Anthony Davis will likely miss tonight’s ball-game to heal his achilles while Jared Dudley, and Kostas Antetokounmpo will not be in for the action.
Keys to the Game:
Prevent the Paint
Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell combined for 39 points almost entirely in the paint, while the team as a whole piled on 56 points in their first meeting vs. the Thunder in mid-January. Simply put, giving up that kind of production inside is going to cost you the game vs. the defending champs. Los Angeles sits in the top bracket from downtown, but if either Harrell or Davis make their inside game a reoccurring theme in the offense, they become the number one option to neutralize.
Shoot, Shoot, Shoot
The Thunder has looked better running in nonstop transition mode, but this is not the sort of playstyle that will give you any return vs. the Lakers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo has asserted themselves as creators inside, but at the rate the Lakers are playing offensively, you need to resort to the three to make it close.
Oklahoma City has three forwards off the bench in Justin Jackson, Darius Miller, and Kenrich Williams at their disposal, plopping them in a 3&D role would not only be very beneficial to the team, but also see where they are as players (obviously, one game is not a big enough sample size, this just gives you the starting point.)
Expect the Unexpected
If you are Oklahoma City, you need to be fully intending on LeBron James AND Anthony Davis suiting up for tonight’s game. If things so the way outlets have speculated, this may just be a date with LeBron but even with that, he is a major force to be reckoned with.