NBA Game Preview - Thunder v Lakers

 
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105
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Oklahoma City 26 26 29 24 105
LA Lakers 18 27 21 20 86
86
3:30 PM PT4:30 PM MT5:30 PM CT6:30 PM ET22:30 GMT6:30 3:30 PM MST5:30 PM EST2:30 UAE (+1)00:3018:30 ET5:30 PM CT21:30 , August 5, 2020
HP Field House, Kissimmee, Florida

With eye on future, Lakers set for Thunder

According to STATS
According to STATS

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers

  1. The Lakers are 3-0 against Oklahoma City this season and can sweep the season series for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, the Thunder's first season in Oklahoma City. LeBron James has averaged 24.0 points and 12.0 assists in the two games he's played against the Thunder this season.
  2. Oklahoma City lost to the Nuggets, 121-113, in overtime on Monday, ending a four-game winning streak. The Thunder have lost only three of their last 12 games, but all three of those defeats came against teams with one of the top six records in the NBA (Denver, LA Clippers, Milwaukee).
  3. The Lakers have attempted 101 free throws in their first three games in the Orlando bubble (2-1), taking at least 30 foul shots in all three games. The Lakers are 13-1 this season when they take 30 or more foul shots, with the lone exception the 107-92 defeat to Toronto on Saturday.
  4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has made the most of his new home with the Thunder this season, averaging 19.4 points per game, up 8.6 per game from the 10.8 he scored with the Clippers last season. Only one player (Terry Rozier +9.0 from Boston to Charlotte) has seen a higher points per game increase this year after changing teams over the offseason.
  5. Anthony Davis scored 42 points on 13-for-28 shooting (.464) in the Lakers' win over Utah on Monday. Half of those shots came in the first quarter (6-for-14), making him just the second player to attempt at least 14 shots in the first quarter of a game this season (James Harden 17 FGA on 11/16/19).
  6. This will be the 26th meeting between LeBron James and Chris Paul, with James' team winning 15 of the 26 games. LeBron has averaged 24.6 points and 7.5 assists per game in those meetings while Paul has gone for 16.6 points and 9.5 assists.

Through three games of the NBA's restart, the Los Angeles Lakers have shown much of what makes them a title contender.

They have also shown how vulnerable they can be when things are not working correctly.

Beginning with Wednesday's matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers have some time to look inward and work on being the best they can be for the playoffs.

Los Angeles did clinch the top seed in the Western Conference with Monday's win over Utah. And Lakers star LeBron James isn't hiding the fact that he'll be keeping an eye on the race for eighth place, and a first-round playoff opponent, in the coming days.

"I think it's absolutely unhuman if you wasn't really paying attention to the seedings, especially at this point of the season," James said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "You're looking at Memphis and Pelicans and San Antonio and Portland. I'm not taking out Phoenix as well. You're just seeing the games and seeing what can possibly be our matchups."

The Lakers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

None of the Lakers' five remaining games are against teams they might meet in the first round.

During their two wins so far in the restart, it's been Anthony Davis, not James, who has been the catalyst to success.

Davis averaged 38 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Jazz. He had just 14 points, and seven shots from the field, in the loss to Toronto.

Davis said the loss Saturday opened his eyes a bit.

"I have to play better basketball than I did (against the Raptors) to help the team win," he said. "Even though I was making the right plays, I still have to be aggressive. I didn't like the way I performed and didn't like the way we performed as a team."

While the Lakers (51-15) might have time to catch their breath a little bit and focus on what's to come in the playoffs, Oklahoma City has no such luxury.

The Thunder (41-25) enter the game sixth in the West, with Dallas lurking in striking distance. But the fourth seed is still in realistic reach as well.

The Thunder are 1-1 since the restart, with plenty of strong moments in both a win over the Jazz and a loss to the Nuggets, but also some uncharacteristic struggles.

"Like everybody else, we're trying to get back to the same rhythm," Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari said. "That's something not easy to do right away. It's going to take some time, but I'm sure we'll get to that point."

Oklahoma City will be without its backup point guard, Dennis Schroder for the second consecutive game after Schroder left the team - and the NBA bubble - for the birth of his second child Monday morning.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander performed well Monday, especially late in the game - mainly when he was one the floor together with Chris Paul - but Oklahoma City will have to continue to adjust without their primary backup point guard.

The Thunder are expected to have Terrance Ferguson back Wednesday after the forward sat out of Monday's game with a leg contusion.

--Field Level Media

Updated August 4, 2020

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