Lakers Vs. Thunder Preview & TV Info: With No LeBron James, Young Core Looking For Momentum Heading Into Tough Stretch
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers enter a very difficult stretch of their schedule beginning Thursday night as they take on the slumping, but talented Oklahoma City Thunder.

While both the Lakers and Thunder are in need of a win to regain some confidence, the Lakers are in desperate need of wins to stay alive in the West. On Wednesday, it was announced that LeBron James was cleared to return to practice, but will miss at least the next two games.

Not having James remains a tall order in and of itself, but particularly so with the Lakers due to face the Thunder, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors in their next three games.

As of now, the Lakers sit outside of the playoffs with a 24-21 record, a half-game behind the Utah Jazz and Clippers for the eighth spot. If they cannot muster a win against any of these elite teams, they’ll drop to 24-24 and be further out of the playoff race when James returns.

This basically means that every game between now and James’ return is a must-win, starting with the Thunder. Oklahoma City is still an elite team, but they are currently experiencing major struggles defensively.

What is on a normal night the NBA’s best defense has given up 154 to the San Antonio Spurs in a double-overtime loss and 142 to the Atlanta Hawks in regulation. They are 1-4 in their last five games.

These two teams will be constructed similarly to the last time they faced off on Jan. 2, when the Thunder won 107-100 after the Lakers offense completely stalled in the second half. However, the Lakers have since made a switch to their starting lineup, benching Josh hart and JaVale McGee in favor of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tyson Chandler.

Also, a part of that could be the loss of Kyle Kuzma to a back injury at halftime, which will be solved with him back in the lineup. But, as a whole, the Lakers must step up offensively in order to win this game.

The Lakers also struggle on the road, at 9-12 this season, and the Thunder have one of the best home-court advantages in basketball, as they stand at 14-6 in Oklahoma City.

The game will be one of the Lakers toughest without James, but if they want to remain in playoff contention, it is a must win, something that will be repeated almost every game until he returns.

Los Angeles Lakers (24-21) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (26-17)

6:30 P.M. PT, Jan. 17, 2019
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Tyson Chandler

Key Reserves: Josh Hart, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, Ivica Zubac

Projected Thunder Starting Lineup:

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Terrance Ferguson
SF: Paul George
PF: Jerami Grant
C: Steven Adams

Key Reserves: Dennis Schroder, Adbel Nader, Patrick Patterson, Hamidou Diallo

You May Also Like

Mavericks Vs. Lakers Game Preview & TV Info: Anthony Davis Returns On Minutes Restriction

It took Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis 65 days and 30 missed games to nurse his Achilles injury…

NBA All-Star Game: Team LeBron And Team Stephen Rosters, Preview & TV Info

The 67th edition of the NBA All-Star Game tips off on Sunday at Staples Center at 5 p.m. PT. It’s the sixth time Los…

Lakers Vs. Bucks Preview: L.A. Returns To Staples Center After Road Trip

The longest road trip of the season has finally come to an…

Lakers Vs. Kings Preview & TV Info: L.A. Looks To Climb Out Of Western Conference Cellar

The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of arguably their best performance of the season. With tons of controversy…