Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
Lakers: Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker, LeBron James, Anthony Davis
Lakers: Anthony Davis (questionable); LeBron James (probable); Trevor Ariza (out); Kendrick Nunn (out)
The Lakers do not get our collective benefit of the doubt. So, on the 2nd night of a back to back, against an OKC team that has found a way to kick their tails both times they’ve played, with AD now questionable because of a sore knee, and them being still so up and down that they are the ultimate “two steps forward, two steps backwards” team in the league, predicting them to win tonight would be silly. Can they win? Sure. Will they? Who the hell knows.
Because in the big picture, this Lakers team is not reliable. They’re not dependable. They’re not a team that does any one thing well enough that it can be a core part of their identity. It’s certainly not “play hard” or “take care of the ball” or “defend with spirit”. On any given night, sure, they’ll do these things. They might also be a “hit shots” team or a “get to the rim” team or a “force turnovers” team. When they’re all of these things on the same night, they look like they can compete for a championship. But, because you cannot rely on them to be any of them, you have a team that’s .500 on the year through 26 games.
So, tonight, they play the Thunder and maybe they’ll play hard, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll get stops, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll remember that this team has come back from big deficits both times to win games, leaving them embarrassed both times and it will inspire a strong effort. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
That’s really the story of this Lakers team this season. A bunch of maybe’s. And, honestly, if they don’t start to figure out what type of team they’re really going to be, it will be the story of their entire season. Maybe tonight that changes — oh, I did it again. But their season won’t change until it’s more than just a thing that is possible on one night vs. a guarantee on most nights.
So, let’s see what they offer to us vs. the Thunder. I’d say I’m optimistic — because I really do think they’re getting closer. But, I’d really like for them to show that they believe it to by going out and actually doing it.
Where you can watch: 5pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet.