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Thunder, Lakers face off ahead of busy NBA Christmas Day schedule

Daniel Coyle, American Sports Correspondent | December 23, 2015

The Oklahoma City Thunder will be gunning for their ninth win in their last 10 contests on Wednesday when they hit the court against the Los Angeles Lakers as 12.5-point road favourites in NBA betting with Coral.

Thunder look for lightning start

Following a streaky start, the Thunder have found their groove, winning 12 of their last 15 SU, taking control of third place in the Western Conference standings, just 7.5 games back of first-place Golden State.

OKC’s strong play has lifted them on the NBA championship odds at Coral to 8/1, but they have been a disappointment against the spread, covering in just seven of their last 19 overall, and two of six on the road.

Suns Thunder Basketball

The Thunder currently rank second in team offense, with 107.4 points per game, but have eclipsed that mark just twice in their past 12, and have seen the point total play UNDER in 12 of their last 14.

The Lakers continue to occupy the basement in the Western Conference standings, with a 5-23 record, but are coming off a 111-107 win in Denver on Tuesday night.

Kobe Bryant has lifted his game since announcing his retirement from the NBA at the end of this season, averaging 25 ppg in his last four outings, including a 31-point performance against the Nuggets.

The Lakers will need more of the same from Kobe against the Thunder, who are 8-1 SU in their last nine against Los Angeles, including a 118-78 blowout win in Oklahoma City which Bryant watched from the sidelines while nursing an injured shoulder.

Christmas Day matchups

Both the Thunder and Lakers will be in NBA action on Christmas Day, when five games will be featured on the NBA schedule, starting with the Miami Heat, who play host to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Heat reach the holiday with a 16-11 SU record, good for a share of fourth place in the Eastern Conference, while maintaining 33/1 odds in NBA futures betting at Coral. But the club has struggled with consistency over the past month, going 7-7 SU in their past 14, 4-5 SU and 3-5-1 ATS in their past nine as betting favourites.

Heat Pacers Basketball

The Pelicans continue to disappoint, entering their Wednesday night date with Portland with just four SU wins in their last 12, while posting back-to-back wins just once this season. The Thunder will be looking for a sixth straight home win against Chicago when they host the Bulls on Christmas Day.

Pelicans Mavericks Basketball

OKC is 6-2 SU in their last eight against Chicago, but dropped a 104-98 decisions to the Bulls at United center earlier this season. The Bulls ride a three-game SU and ATS losing streak into the holidays, continuing the unpredictable play that has seen them alternate between winning and losing streaks since the beginning of December, while going 3-8 ATS in their past 11.

All eyes will be on Oracle Arena on Christmas night, when the Warriors play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last spring’s NBA Finals. Going into Wednesday night’s action, the Dubs and the Cavs remain neck-and-neck on the NBA championship odds, with Golden State perched as 7/4 chalk, followed by Cleveland at 5/2.

The Cavaliers take a five-game SU win streak into their Wednesday night date with the New York Knicks, finally paying off at the sportsbook with four straight ATS wins, while the Warriors return to action against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night as 13.5-point chalk before preparing for their meeting with Cleveland.

In other NBA action on Christmas Day, the surging San Antonio Spurs play host to the struggling Houston Rockets in the battle of Texas, while the Lakers host the Los Angeles Clippers in the nightcap.

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