The Los Angeles Lakers officially have their backs up against the wall tonight in their series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and for Game 5 it’s do-or-die time for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, as they try to overcome a road elimination game against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the hopes of staying alive for at least one more game back in LA. With tip-off set for 9:30 PM ET at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, get your bets set this afternoon for what is sure to be a hard-fought match-up with everything on the line for both teams.
Oklahoma City was able to just squeak out a win in Game 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, to snap a franchise playoff road losing skid to the Lakers dating back to 1980, when the team was still the Seattle SuperSonics. With Russell Westbrook contributing 37 points, and Kevin Durant adding 31 and hitting the crucial 3-pointer late in the game to give the Thunder a huge 3-1 series advantage, there’s no question who the keys are for Game 5 tonight. Back on home court, OKC will have a huge boost of confidence after winning in LA for the first time in 14 playoff games played there, and will be comfortable having won both prior match-ups on home court against LA, dominated by virtue of superb offensive form in Game 1, and shutdown defense in Game 2. Even though the Thunder found themselves once again beat on the glass, with LA holding a 43-39 rebounding advantage and scoring 48 points in the paint to OKC’s 48, the depth of outside shooting for the Thunder continues to be their strongest point of play, once again shooting at a near 50 percent level for Game 4 on the road. Getting up to that level at home tonight will be a key factor, as when OKC reaches above 49 percent shooting on home court, they are all but unstoppable. Though inside play around the hoop still leaves a bit to be desired for OKC fans, it’s been proven that the Thunder can make do with big shooting nights from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, needing only a couple other players to hit double figures in order to put the game out of reach.
Los Angeles on the other hand has the huge challenge of trying to find enough scoring presence on the road, against a Thunder team that finished 26-7 on home court and hasn’t lost there in the playoffs yet. The Lakers have continued to struggle away from their own home, averaging just 82.5 points per game against OKC in this series, and just 90.6 points per game on the road against the poor defense of the Denver Nuggets. There is no question tonight that if the Lakers stand a chance at pushing a Game 6 back home in this series, they’ll have to get bigger contributions from someone not named Kobe Bryant, and will have to find a way to get their bench scorers involved in the effort, as the LA second string has as per usual been nearly non-existent. Without huge, step-up games from Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers will be too reliant on Kobe Bryant to have an excellent shooting night to pull them through, so the two big men, as well as supporting cast including guys like Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Jordan Hill must come out of their shell (the three combined for just 10 points in Game 4) or be set for vacation time earlier than they would have wanted. To add to the Lakers’ tasks as well this evening, a key focal point has to include limiting the shooting presence of the Thunder, who so far in this series have pretty much had their way taking shots from any place on the court, relatively unchallenged in all games except for Game 2, in which both teams did not shoot the ball well. LA has to have offensive balance, control the tempo, and avoid letting the Thunder take shots at will from mid-range jumpers to perimeter bombs, or the Thunder will be celebrating a Conference Finals appearance over their heads tonight.
Betting Lines for Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at Betonline Sportsbook.
The bookmakers at Betonline Sportsbook make no mistake who the favorite for tonight’s match-up is, with the Thunder getting heavy -400 odds to win straight up on the money line. The Lakers, unable to really generate offense on the road this year, stand as +330 underdogs to win.
Against the spread, Oklahoma City are a hefty 8 point favorite at -105 odds, while LA gets 8 points to play with at -115 price. Interestingly enough though, despite a Game 1 blowout at Oklahoma City, the Lakers have been within 3 points in each of the last 3 contests played in this series. With everything on the line tonight, we’ll expect the Lakers to at least put up a big enough fight to stay within the 8 points given to them on the spread.
For the over/under on total points, 192 is the line drawn in the sand. This could be a tricky proposition for sportsbook bettors, seeing as though both games so far at OKC have been wildly different on the scoring lines. 209 points were scored in the opening game, whereas just 152 were scored in the second. If anything though, LA’s inability to put up huge numbers, combined with a stronger focus on defense tonight, should keep the scoring down a bit in this game. However, if the Thunder can start strong and keep up a fast-paced offense like they have in the past 2 games, the over/under will certainly lean towards the high side tonight.
Expect an exciting showdown in Oklahoma City tonight, as the Thunder can clinch a spot amongst the final two teams in the Western Conference, and the LA Lakers, historically a great playoff team, can make the series all the more exciting by picking up a win to push Game 6 back to Los Angeles. However, with LA’s bench woes and their less-than desirable play being a constant theme this season, the money will definitely be banking on the Thunder tonight, who’s game it is to win or lose at home.