The OKC Thunder gain a huge edge as the updated injury report for the Los Angeles Lakers reveals LeBron James will sit with an illness.
It’s not often teams get palpable advantages but this is about as good as it gets for the OKC Thunder. The LA Lakers were already arriving on the second game of a back to back set having played in Dallas last night.
Anthony Davis didn’t play versus the Mavericks nursing a sore tail bone after his hard fall against the Knicks last Sunday.
Although there has been no confirmation update as of yet the presumption is the Lakers will err on the side of caution and hold out Davis if he’s remotely hurting. This due to his history of back injuries in the past.
But the updated news is LeBron James won’t play tonight. He’s nursing a cold that he’s been battling all week.
With the Lakers playing consecutive games this makes sense given a player who performs under 100 percent is more susceptible to injury. Plus the Lakers holding a significant edge on the Western competition with a 4.5 game edge over their nearest opponent in the standings (Nuggets and Clippers). The Lakers can afford to use caution with both James and Davis.
However, what that equates to for the Thunder is they’ll be facing a team without their best two players. More important, than the scoring loss is James is the key playmaker for the Lakers. That’s a significant factor for this club who struggles to score when others man the point guard and playmaking role.
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As per Zach Lowe’s recent 10 things I like and don’t like post he highlighted precisely how aversely the Lakers are effected without LeBron James on the court.
It’s really the only blemish on an otherwise dominant season: The Lakers average 100.5 points per 100 possessions with LeBron James on the bench — three points worse than the league’s clankiest offense….
The Lakers shoot 70% at the rim with LeBron on the floor — a number that would lead all teams — and a middling 63% when he sits, per Cleaning the Glass. The drop-off on corner 3s is just as severe. Their expected effective field goal percentage with LeBron — based on shot location, the identity of the shooter, and the proximity of defenders — would top the league, but drops to around average without him, per Second Spectrum.
That should spell a significant advantage for the Thunder in terms of locking down the Lakers but also with the Thunder three point guard lineup who already held a distinct advantage over Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo.
For the full breakdown and five keys to winning the match click this link or the blue box above that details how the OKC Thunder can win this game that now becomes even more accessible given this news.