The Los Angeles Lakers will look to extend their winning streak to five games when they take on the new-look Oklahoma City Thunder in the first of a two-game set.
The Thunder underwent one of the most drastic roster changes over the 2019 NBA offseason — right up there with the Lakers. In a move that came from the Los Angeles Clippers pure desperation, the Thunder traded Paul George in exchange for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and a war chest of first round draft picks. Following that, they traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and more first round draft picks.
Now they have a roster that isn’t fully ready for a rebuild but likely has no shot at making the 2020 NBA playoffs.
The Lakers, on the other hand, made a number of moves that shot them right into championship contention. That’s how they’ve been able to start the 2019-20 NBA season as one of the league’s most dominant teams, especially defensively where they rank first in the NBA by a sizable margin.
The Thunder are a very middle of the road team. They rank 23rd on offense and 12th on defense in the league. This is anchored by Paul and Steven Adams, who make up one of the better point guard-center pairings in the NBA. They are still dealing with life without Andre Roberson, who hasn’t played in a game since Jan. 2018.
The Lakers have been doing just fine without Avery Bradley, who is out at least two weeks with a small fracture in his leg.
Despite what the stats say, the Thunder are no easy out. They’ve lost by five or less to the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Milwaukee Bucks, but won against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Lakers cannot allow for any complacency in this game as the Thunder have enough veteran presence to take full advantage of that. The loss of Bradley for the game means that somebody will need to find success guarding Paul and that’s likely to be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to start the game and then Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo as the game goes on.
While the Lakers should win, it’s important they take care of business like they did in their win against the Atlanta Hawks. Otherwise, the Thunder will be ready to steal one that they simply shouldn’t win.
Los Angeles Lakers (11-2) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-7)
7:30 P.M. PT, Nov. 19, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: NBATV, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo
Projected Thunder Starting Lineup:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SF: Terrance Ferguson
PF: Danilo Gallinari
C: Steven Adams
Key Reserves: Dennis Schroder, Darius Bazley, Nerlens Noel, Abdel Nader, Mike Muscala