The Los Angeles Lakers are a proud franchise, one of the biggest brand names in the NBA. They will get a final chance to go toe-to-toe with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday in L.A.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers – Sunday, April 22
Why Oklahoma City Will Win
The professional basketball analysts poring over data and historical context will find it hard to cut against Oklahoma City in this game. The online betting wisdom suggests that the Thunder will be able to take charge on the final Sunday of the NBA regular season and put the Lakers in their place. Oklahoma City is better, deeper, younger, and fresher. Los Angeles superstar Kobe Bryant has missed the past week with nagging injuries that have relegated him to an informal but real coaching role on the Lakers’ bench. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum still give the Lakers a substantial low-post presence and shot-blocking ability near the basket, but Kobe’s diminished physical health gives Oklahoma State an undeniably large advantage on the perimeter in this contest. There’s simply no place outside the lane or near the three-point line where the Lakers can match up favorably.
The Thunder might get tested in this game, but they’ll still have the guys who should be trusted to make huge plays in the final minutes of regulation. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two quick, lethal scorers with the ability to knock down pressure shots, and if they get stopped, James Harden can hit threes off kickouts. Oklahoma City can also counter Los Angeles’ interior presence with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, two men who have worked well together all season long. Oklahoma City has assembled the mixture of speed and power needed to become a complete NBA team, and this late in the season, one shouldn’t expect the Thunder to lose their edge against an older and less formidable Laker squad that has really missed Lamar Odom in 2012.
Why Los Angeles Will Win
When you do your homework and assess your sports bet on this game, you will be pointed to the fact that the Lakers have not just been performing, but competing, over the past week without Kobe Bryant in the lineup. The Lakers won four games in a five-game stretch, defending better and getting more out of their big men, especially Pau Gasol. With Bryant out of the lineup, Gasol has once again stepped to the forefront. He hit two three-pointers this past Sunday to carry the Lakers past Dallas. He’s asking for the ball more and is leading by example. With this kind of presence on the court, Los Angeles can attack
Oklahoma City’s defense by feeding the post and forcing the Thunder to clog the lane. If Oklahoma City succeeds in that counter-maneuver, Gasol has the ability to step out and hit a long jumper to make the Thunder’s big men play him away from the basket. This is how the Lakers can pry open opportunities on Sunday and eventually win.
Who Will Win
It would be one thing if Kobe Bryant could play this game at or near optimum health, but he’s not going to be in very good playing shape. Common sense suggests that Oklahoma City has more – and better – weapons than the Lakers do. The Thunder will be hard to stop this weekend at Staples Center. Take Oklahoma City to win this contest.
NBA Basketball Betting Pick: Oklahoma City
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