The night we’ve all been waiting for is nearly upon us. Finally. It was a few weeks ago, as the Los Angeles Lakers began free-falling in the absence of LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors hopped in the Steph Curry rocketship and began flying up the standings, that the possibility of this matchup in the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament was first considered. It’s almost unbelievable that we ended up getting here.
Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors
LeBron, Curry Meet In Most Highly Anticipated Clash Of Season (Regular Season Betting Record: 98-107)
In late March, with LeBron James expected to be out at least a month with an ankle injury and Anthony Davis already out with a calf issue, the Los Angeles Lakers started sliding down the Western Conference standings like a fat kid on a water slide. Around the same time, something clicked for Steph Curry and the greatest shooter in NBA history realized that with this group of teammates, he would need to have otherworldly output over the final stages of the season to make a playoff push.
That’s what set us on the path that led to this enormous play-in clash. The Lakers predictably struggled mightily without their top dogs, going on a yucky 9-19 run before the King returned and led them to wins in their final five to secure the seventh seed and the top spot in the West’s play-in.
Meanwhile, the Warriors rode a ridiculous shooting stretch from the Chef to 15 wins in their final 20 games to vault themselves up from the 10th spot, where they’d been for most of the season, up to the eighth seed, which cleared the way for one of the most sought after clashes in a one-off, do-or-die play-in game featuring perhaps the two best hoopers on the planet right now.
Another important point to note here, however, is that this also means that both the Lakers and Dubs have an extra chance to make the actual playoff tournament.
The winner of Wednesday’s game locks into the seventh seed and a first round matchup with the Phoenix Suns, while the loser goes on to play the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game between the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, which will be played earlier on Wednesday evening. The winner of that game will earn the eighth seed and a first round date with the Utah Jazz.
While they do have that safety net, we’d expect both of these teams to play like their seasons depend on it on Wednesday night, and with that in mind, it is very hard to bet against the King, which makes our NBA predictions a little bit easier.
The Warriors have been on quite the run of late, but they really struggled with the Lakers earlier this season, losing games by 26 and 31 points. Curry didn’t shoot well in one of those contests, but he shot 9-for-17 for 27 points in the game they lost by 31 points—and the Lakers didn’t even have the Brow for that tilt.
The Brow is back and at full strength, and he could prove to be the key to the game on Wednesday night. The Warriors play a lot of small ball, and AD’s ability to use his agility and athleticism as a seven-footer will be huge in keeping up with the Dubs on defense and dominating them on offense, where he can surely make barbecue chicken of the 6’7” Draymond Green, no matter how crafty the latter is.
Another point that has led us to prefer the Lakers as our top pick here is the record of the Dubs as a road underdog this season: they put up an abysmal 7-16 record against the spread in those situations, fifth-worst mark in the NBA.
The fact that the Lakers have suffocated opponents into the third-fewest triples per game (11.4) on the fourth-worst shooting percentage from deep (35.2) in the association does not bode well for Curry and the triple-happy Warriors either.
LeBron just doesn’t mess around when it comes to this time of year and despite Curry’s otherworldly shooting streak recently, we still like the Lakers to cover a -4.5 NBA point spread at lovely -111 NBA odds as one of our best bets for today.
- Golden State has won 6 straight games
- Los Angeles has won 5 straight games
- Los Angeles has covered the spread in 3 of the past 4 meetings
- Golden State is 7-16 ATS as a road underdog this season
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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.