|NBA Matchups, Odds, Analysis 12/14-12/16: Lakers @ Wizards
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NBA Matchups and Analysis December 14th to December 16th, 2018 By: Christopher B. Watford for NoLuckNeeded.com
Nearly a third of the way into the 2018-2019 season and the NBA still manages to keep us on our toes. The West is closer than ever and itís likely that it will be a bloodbath all season. The Nuggets are still sitting at the top of the West and the Lakers seem to be over achieving this season, sitting on a 17-10 record. While this last week of buzzer beaters and superstar performances is gone, letís take a look at this weekendís notable matchups.
Los Angeles Lakers (17-10) @ Washington Wizards (11-17) December 16th, 2018
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hugged it out at the end of the Lakers 108-105 win against the Heat Monday night. Wade and James have been through a lot - including a couple of championships - and they played their final NBA game of the season last Monday. Wade is having his own little retirement tour and he has started a little tradition to go along with it too. After most games, Wade will take his jersey off and exchange it with a player of the opposing team. After the Heat lost to the Lakers, LeBron and Wade hugged each other and exchanged jerseys, bringing the history of LeBron and Wade to a final close.
As for the Lakers this season, theyíre continuing to dominate after their slow start. They are 7-3 over their last 10 and are a single game behind the first seed. LeBron is still doing his usual thing, averaging 28/8/7 on a career-low in minutes. What might have looked like a dysfunctional team going into the season, the Lakers have exceeded expectations and are sitting firmly in the driverís seat.
Speaking of dysfunction, the Wizards still donít know what theyíre doing. Theyíre sitting on an 11-17 record and a three game losing streak with no signs of gaining momentum. The situation in D.C is a complicated one to be sure; the Wiz have the right pieces and a strong back court with John Wall and Bradley Beal, but whether it be effort or coaching, they canít seem to piece together a decent season in a weaker conference.
Keep in mind that the Lakers are going to be facing the Wizards at the end of a back-to-back and as their third game in a four game stretch, but when has fatigue ever affected LeBron? Watch live on SPEC, NSWA, or NBA League Pass this Sunday at 6:00 PM ET.
Can the Lakers and Lebron beat the Wizards?
OKC Thunder (17-9) @ Denver Nuggets (18-9) December 14th, 2018
The Nuggets are tied for the second best record in the league and the Thunder arenít far off with a 17-9 record. After OKCís disappointing performance in last yearís playoffs they made some much-needed adjustments. They got rid of Carmelo Anthony (who still hasnít found a team to play for) and Russell Westbrook and Paul George continue to have an absolutely stellar season.
The Nuggets average the third most assists in the league and are the third best defensive team as well - behind OKC and Boston. The Nuggets are going to have to watch how they control the ball because the Thunder are filled with pesky defenders. OKC averages the most steals per game by a decent margin.
The Thunder are coming off a difficult loss in New Orleans where four of the Thunderís players combined for 89 points, but they couldnít overcome Anthony Davis and his season-high statline of 44 points and 18 rebounds. Westbrook has remained tenacious this season, where he is averaging yet another triple double. Westbrook has the ability to will his team to a win - but will he be able to knock the Nuggets down from the first seed?
Watch this Friday on ESPN at 10:00 PM ET.
Houston Rockets (16-11) @ Memphis Grizzlies (12-14) December 15th, 2018
The Grizzlies and the Rockets have seemingly switched places: the Rockets have started the season slow with a 12-14 record while the Grizzlies are 16-11. After a slow 4-6 start for Houston, they decided that Carmelo Anthony wasnít the right fit for the team (or any NBA team for that matter), but theyíve since gone 8-10 after dropping him. Houston is a talented team that shouldnít have to worry about battling for a lottery pick, but their slow start is concerning.
The Grizzlies have blown expectations out of the water this year and have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with. The Grizzlies are the fifth best defensive team in the league and the Rockets are the sixth best offensive team in the league. Houston relies a lot on ISO-heavy basketball and three pointers. They shoot the most threes in the league (41.7) but unfortunately are the 25th worst three point shooting team.
A couple of matchups to watch out for is the battle between Chris Paul and Mike Conley, and the battle of the bigs, with Marc Gasol and Clint Capela. Paul is having his worst offensive season since his debut year, heís nearly averaging a career-low in points, as well as assists.
Clint Capela has filled in the Rocketís center position nicely for a couple of years now and he continues to stuff the stat sheet. Heís averaging 17.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. Gasol continues to remain reliable night in and night out as well, averaging 16.7 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Watch this Saturday on ATSW, FSSE, or NBA League Pass at 8:00 PM ET to see if the Grizzliesí defense can shut down the Rocketsí offense.
(Check NBA game odds and updates at Intertops Sports Betting)