San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Lakers 12/23/21: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream
San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Lakers Matchup Preview (12/23/21)
The Spurs take on the Lakers Thursday night in the final game of their 4 game road trip. After soundly defeating the Clippers 116-92, the Spurs will look to increase their December record to 7-4 with a win over the struggling Lakers. Dejounte Murray gashed the Clippers for his 6th triple double of the season with a line of 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 13 assists. Murray has been the undisputed leader for this Spurs team and is heavily in consideration for the Most Improved Player Award. Fortunately for the Spurs, they have been lucky health-wise, as the only player expected to miss the contest is Zach Collins (ankle). Although the Spurs sit at 12-18 on the season, they are better than their record indicates. They have a 0 +/- and a 0.2 net rating, while the 16-16 Lakers have a -2.2 +/- and a -1.4 net rating. The Spurs are a well balanced team with seven players averaging at least 11 points and eight players averaging at least 8 points.
The Lakers are 0-2 since Anthony Davis injured his knee. They must bounce back from their 18 point loss to the Suns and get more contributions from the bench. LeBron and Westbrook have played well the last two games without Davis. They combined for 53.5 PPG, 20 RPG, 10.5 APG on 39.5 FGA per game. In LeBron’s 34 minutes against the Suns, he had a 0 +/- and the Lakers were holding their own. The Suns bench outscored the Lakers bench 37-22, however, and the only player stepping up to help LeBron and Westbrook was new addition Trevor Ariza, who chipped in 12 points and 5 rebounds on 4/4 from the field. Nobody else on the Lakers cleared 10 points. Talen Horton-Tucker and Isaiah Thomas together shot 2/24 from the field. Without key contributions from the bench, the Lakers cannot keep up with teams in this age of instant offense. With Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley, and Austin Reaves (COVID) expected to be out, the Lakers will need more from their other three starters.
San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds
The Lakers are 2-0 against the Spurs this season through a 125-121 OT win on October 26 and a 114-106 win on November 14. Anthony Davis played in both of those games, but LeBron did not. The Spurs will benefit from not facing Davis, as he torched them for 34.5 PPG, 16 RPG, 5 APG on 52.7 FG%. Dejounte Murray recorded a triple double in both games this year and will look to continue his dominant all-around performance against the Lakers. This matchup will be a star-reliant roster against a well-balanced lineup. Look for this game to be close throughout. Although LeBron will produce as usual, Murray’s stellar defense (2.0 SPG) could bother turnover-prone Russell Westbrook (4.6 turnover per game) and force him into a bad shooting night. Overall, I like the Spurs to win the game in the middle to end of the 4th quarter. No matter who wins, the final score will not be a blowout. The Spurs have played like a playoff team recently, while the Lakers have been struggling.
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Time: 10:30 PM ET
Arena: Staples Center – Los Angeles, LA
Channel: NBA TV
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San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup
San Antonio Spurs Analysis
Dejounte Murray has been fantastic for the Spurs. On the season, he is averaging 18.1 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 8.6 APG, 2.0 SPG while being the Spurs best defensive player. Along with Murray, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson have improved into good 3&D players. Johnson has been other-worldly from deep this year by shooting an astounding 46.7% on 3.2 attempts per game. He has upped his scoring to 15 PPG while being disruptive on defense. Vassell has increased his scoring from 5.5 PPG to 11.0 PPG and is shooting 36% on three point attempts. Vassell, in particular, has flashed against the Lakers this year. In the two previous matchups, he is averaging 19 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.5 APG on 48 FG% and 56 3PT%. Down low, Poeltl has been a solid starter. He missed the second game, but Poeltl dropped a stat line of 27 points and 14 rebounds on 13/17 from the field in the first encounter. The Lakers have struggled at rim protection recently and allowed Deandre Ayton to produce 19 points and 11 rebounds on 9/11 shooting. Look for Poeltl to have an efficient night.
As a team, the Spurs are a throwback in their shot selection and ball movement. They lead the NBA with 28.1 APG, which accounts for their balanced scoring. Also, they lead the NBA in % of total shots that are 2 pointers (67.9%) and are last in % of total shots that are 3 pointers (32.1%). With Murray as the lead ball handler, the Spurs rarely turn the ball over and are 1st in Assist/Turnover ratio at a ratio of 2.19. The Spurs move the ball, shoot efficiently, and do not beat themselves with careless errors. The Lakers will have to be disciplined to beat this Spurs unit.
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
Los Angeles Lakers Analysis
Russell Westbrook will be vital in this matchup for the Lakers. Without Davis to take on the scoring-burden, Westbrook must continue to pick his shots wisely and avoid those 6/22 nights that we have often seen throughout the years. So far, the Lakers have been dreadful on open shots. Besides shooting problems, the Lakers give up a large amount of points in the paint and turn the ball over at a high rate. The Lakers ball handlers must navigate the pesky Spurs defenders and avoid careless mistakes. Isaiah Thomas and Talen Horton-Tucker are getting back into basketball shape, so their horrible performance against the Suns is understandable. However, they must be more efficient or take less shots for the Lakers to succeed.
Dwight Howard is eligible to return from COVID protocols, which should be a boost for the Lakers interior defense. While he is not as mobile as he once was, Howard is a big body that can alter shots. The Lakers are 23rd in the NBA at defending around the basket. Howard’s return can boost their interior defense and force the Spurs to take more jump shots. The most concerning problem for the Lakers currently is LeBron’s workload. He is about to turn 37, and needing him to play huge minutes every night might exhaust LeBron by the end of the season. Although if any player can take care of his body, it is certainly LeBron. If the Lakers are going to win this game, they need an efficient night from Westbrook and 2-4 other players to step up and contribute in a meaningful way.
San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Lakers Daily Fantasy Picks
For this game, I like Murray and LeBron to fill the box score. Murray, especially, has been unstoppable against the Lakers this year. I would be cautious choosing Westbrook because of Murray’s on-ball perimeter defense. Poeltl is an underrated rim protector and will affect Lakers paint shots. A value pick is Devin Vassell due to his huge performances this year against the Lakers. He can torch a shoddy Lakers bench unit and be an impactful scorer. Bryn Forbes and Trevor Ariza are also sneaky candidates as they will get touches for their respective teams. Forbes is shooting 42.6% from three and making the most of his touches. Ariza has looked comfortable for the Lakers and has not missed a field goal in his 2 games for the Lakers. Overall, I like Poeltl and Vassell the most to produce numbers beyond their averages.