The Philadelphia 76ers are playing well right now despite being without injured rookie Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. He has been out with a sore shoulder since late October and will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks. Hopefully you didn’t’ bet on him to win Rookie of the Year. Here’s two big NBA picks in the NBA schedule for this week. No TNT doubleheader as usual on Thursday as the NBA goes dark on Thanksgiving. Check back at for the NBA odds on game day before placing your bets.
Top NBA Picks & Predictions of the Week – November 20th Edition
Lonzo Ball is just the 3rd @Lakers player to ever record multiple triple-doubles in his rookie season.
The other two? Magic Johnson & Jerry West. pic.twitter.com/5TomRe8UCd
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) November 20, 2017
Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers
When: Tuesday, 10:30 PM ET (NBA TV)
OK, the Bulls are terrible and tanking and the Lakers aren’t great either, so why preview this game? It’s the only one on Tuesday. It’s two good rookies matching up as well in the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen, the No. 7 overall pick, and the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, who went No. 2 overall. Markkanen has been better than the struggling Ball thus far.
In fact, Ball is struggling so much with his shot that some speculated the Lakers might consider bringing him off the bench. However, Coach Luke Walton said he is not considering that move. “He’s our starting point guard. So there’s no discussion, no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench. Nah. He’s our starting point guard.” Ball did have a triple-double earlier this month, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record one at 20 years and 15 days old. He topped the previous mark held by LeBron James, at 20 years and 20 days, while Magic Johnson previously held the Lakers record at 20 years and 75 days.
What Has Worked for the Lakers this Season?
Scoring in the interior has been a strong suit for the Lakers this season, as the team leads the NBA in points in the paint. L.A.’s 55.4 per game would be the second-highest average ever recorded since the NBA began tracking the stat in 1996-97. There have been a total of nine teams to average 50+ points in the paint for a season. The Lakers have scored 60+ points in the paint on six occasions, including a season-high 68 points on Nov. 3 vs. Brooklyn that is tied for the top output in the league this season.
The Bulls should be better once Zach LaVine is cleared to play – he was part of the Jimmy Butler trade from Minnesota (so was that No. 7 pick Chicago used to take Markkanen). Barring a setback, LaVine (knee) will be cleared for full contact at Monday’s practice but he’s still looking at a mid-December return.
Chicago has won its past two trips to the Lakers. Butler had 40 points in a 118-110 win at Staples Center a season ago.
Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder
When: Wednesday, 8 PM ET (ESPN)
It’s a potential Western Conference Finals preview and of course Kevin Durant’s first trip back to Oklahoma City this season. He was booed heartily in both visits a year ago. Russell Westbrook and Durant reportedly still aren’t speaking as Westbrook was blindsided by Durant’s decision to leave OKC. Of course, Durant would win his first NBA title and win Finals MVP honors.
It worked out fine for Russ last year, though, too as he won the NBA MVP Award and became the second player in league history to average a triple-double over a season. The Warriors easily handled OKC in each meeting last year. Westbrook is just one of three players in NBA history with at least 15,000 points, 5,000 assists and 4,000 rebounds before age 29 along with Oscar Robertson and LeBron James.
How Has Oklahoma City Been So Far?
The Thunder started slowly this year after acquiring stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony this offseason, but they have stared to play better of late. Oklahoma City leads the league in both steals per game (10.20) and opponent turnovers per game (18.5). The Thunder have yet to finish within the Top 5 in the NBA in these categories since they moved to Oklahoma City as their previous season bests were 8.28 steals per game in 2012-13 and 15.2 opponent turnovers per game in 2013-14. George leads the NBA in steals per game at 2.40. The Thunder are forcing turnovers on 19.5% of opponent possessions, which leads the NBA.
The Warriors are averaging 32.8 points per game in the third quarter this season, first in the NBA. Last season, the Warriors led the NBA in points per game in the third quarter with a 31.2 scoring average. The 32.8 points per game is the highest for any quarter among NBA teams this year That’s generally a sign of good coaching. The Warriors have the highest net rating for the third quarter and fourth quarters this season. Under Steve Kerr, the Dubs have lost consecutive games only six times with the longest losing streak at three games. That’s amazing.
Expert Prediction & NBA Picks of the Week
Lakers will beat the Bulls, and Golden State will beat OKC yet again. Durant will be fired up. So don’t leave these NBA picks out of your bets this week!