This will be the first time that these two squads will square off since the Nets acquired James Harden in mid-January, but we unfortunately won’t be seeing either team at full strength: Anthony Davis will be out for the Lakers for at least another two weeks with a lower calf strain and Kevin Durant will also be out for this matchup as he deals with a left hamstring strain.
Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets
Lakers Host Nets In Possible Finals Preview (Season Betting Record: 42-38)
The Nets will, however, be getting the much-needed services of Kyrie Irving back on Thursday night after the mercurial point guard sat out Brooklyn’s big Tuesday night comeback win with lower back tightness. Head coach Steve Nash has downplayed the seriousness of the injury as well. Harden went off against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday without his two superstar teammates, carrying the Nets all the way back from a 24-point deficit to win that game with a Harden triple that capped off his 38-point, 11-assist, seven-rebound masterpiece.
The Beard is playing some of the best basketball of his career, and that’s saying something. Willing the Nets to a win against a top team in the West without Durant or Irving was impressive. Of the past ten times that Harden has led his team to a win with 35+ points and 10+ assists on 50 percent or more shooting from the field, his team has won their next game eight times.
It’s an impressive trend, but it’s just one of many numbers leading us to make Brooklyn’s +3.5 point spread at -127 NBA odds one of our top picks for this matchup. The Nets have not been a great team against the spread this season, but they have been very good against Western Conference teams (8-3 ATS) and as an underdog (6-3 ATS).
The Nets have only been underdogs of five or less points seven other times this season, and they won five of those games straight up. On the other side of that coin, the Lakers have gone 2-4 ATS in games where they are favored by five points or less so far during this campaign.
Another market we really like for our second NBA pick for this showdown is the over on Harden’s 37.5 Points + Assists prop at -110 NBA odds. Durant’s continued absence means more usage for Harden and as the main ball-handler, he should be able to benefit from the amount of time he will have the ball in his hands.
Harden was lights out in that Tuesday victory, and performances like that from him are usually a sign of more to come. In his past ten games following a win in which he scored 35+, picked up 10+ dimes and shot better than 50 percent from the field, the Beard has put up monster numbers, averaging 33.8 points and 10.1 assists.
LeBron James has only been averaging 25.2 points per game when Davis is not in the lineup this season, but considering the potency of Brooklyn’s offense, the King is going to have to do his part to keep the Lakers in the game, and that means scoring with a lot of forays into the Nets’ unguarded paint area. One of our best bets for today is the over on James’ 28.5 points prop at -120 NBA odds.
- Brooklyn is 6-3 ATS this season as an underdog
- Los Angeles is 5-8 ATS this season at home
- Los Angeles is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 against Eastern Conference foes
- Brooklyn is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 against Western Conferences opponents
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.