Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA: Wednesday, January 1, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, 10:30 PM ET
New Year’s Day brings the Pacific Division showdown from Staple Center in LA between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. These two foes meet for the second time this season, and the Lakers outlasted the Suns 123-115 as 3.5-point road underdogs back in November. It was the Lakers’ fifth win over the Suns in their previous six encounters.
After eight straight losses in December, the Suns have won their last two games in 2019. They will wrap up a four-game road trip in Los Angeles. On the other side, the Lakers have won their previous two contests, too, and are still sitting atop the Western Conference.
The Suns rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the Trail Blazers on the roadPhoenix is coming off a 122-116 victory at the Miami Heat this past Monday. The Suns trailed by 19 points after the first quarter and were down by nine at the start of the fourth quarter, but they managed to overcome a deficit and pull off an upset. Devin Booker had a terrific game with 33 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, while Kelly Oubre Jr. added 29 points while making seven of his ten attempts from beyond the arc. The Suns shot 56.5% from deep and missed only one of their 22 attempts from the free-throw line.
"If you're a boxer, you box your way," Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. "You don't switch up and go southpaw in the middle of the fight. You have to fight your style and I think that's how we have to be. We have to play our style of basketball, make adjustments as we go along. I thought we started the game in a bit of a laze."
The Suns are slowly building up their form after a terrible eight-game span in December. Deandre Ayton returned from an ankle injury and posted six points and 12 rebounds against the Trail Blazers. Devin Booker is still the Suns’ best player, and he’s averaging 23.1 points and 7.0 assists over the last seven outings. Phoenix scores 110.5 points per 100 possessions (10th in the league), allowing 111.3 points in a return (19th), so the Suns need to improve defensively if they want to make it to the postseason after a nine-year drought.
The Lakers easily outlasted Luka Doncic and the red-hot MavsThe Lakers are coming off a convincing 108-95 victory to the Dallas Mavericks this past Sunday. They had an 11-point lead at the break and cruised through the second half to earn their second straight win. LeBron James accounted for 13 points and 13 assists, becoming the ninth player in NBA history to reach 9,000 assists. The Lakers played some smothering defense, limiting the Mavericks on 36.0% shooting from the field and 30.2% from downtown. Likewise, Luka Doncic scored just 19 points, while Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers with 23 points and nine rebounds.
"My teammates and coaching staff trust me to play the point and run the show," LeBron said. "It's my job to take care of the ball, put guys in position to be successful, get them the ball on time and on target."
James had some problems with a groin injury over the last ten days. In his previous nine outings, LeBron is tallying 23.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 11.2 assists. Anthony Davis is posting 29.0 points and 9.7 boards over his last nine outings, and these two guys are indispensable for the Lakers who will try to stay on the winning path in 2020. The Lakers score 111.9 points per 100 possessions (6th in the league) while surrendering only 104.8 points in a return (4th). They are one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing the opponents to shoot 43.8% from the field (5th).
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Oddsshark.com, are: Phoenix:
- 2-8 ATS in the last ten games against the Lakers
- 1-4 ATS in the last five games against the Pacific Division
- 13-7 ATS in the last 20 games at home
- 6-2 ATS in the last eight contests against the Western Conference