Two of the top title contenders in the NBA will dance on Saturday night in Brooklyn when the Nets welcome the Los Angeles Lakers to the Barclays Center. Unfortunately for both teams and for us fans, neither team is at full strength right now. If James Harden, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis were all playing for their respective sides in this matchup, we’d probably be talking about the game of the week, but without those All-World talents, this game takes on a much different look.
Free Picks: Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers & Nets Converge At Barclays In Battle Of Title Contenders (Season Betting Record: 81-84)
Kyle Kuzma might be unavailable for the shorthanded Lakers as well, though they did get recent addition Andre Drummond back from injury recently. The Nets have received a huge boost from the play of Beardo since his arrival via trade in January, catapulting himself to the top of the MVP rankings before suffering a more serious hamstring strain than previously believed.
He will miss at least another 10 days, but thankfully for his squad, Kevin Durant made his return from his own hammy issue that kept him out over 20 games on Wednesday, and the wiry big man seemed no worse for the wear.
The Durantula was on a minutes limit that kept him below 20 minutes of game action, but he didn’t let that stop him from having an effect on a game which his team ended up winning by nearly 30 over the New Orleans Pelicans. Durant did not miss a shot in his triumphant return, going 5-for-5 from the field and 5-for-5 from the charity stripe as he put up 17 points, seven rebounds, and five dimes in just 19 minutes.
The Lakers don’t really have anyone that can stop Durant, and the guys best suited to the job in terms of size and athleticism—James and Kuzma—are both out anyway, so we’d expect the Texas alumnus to maybe even one-up his performance against NOLA.
Brooklyn has been on point when they get matched up with the Western Conference, going 15-7 against the spread in those situations this season. The Lakers have been just as bad when taking on the Eastern Conference, against whom they have put up an ugly 8-13 ATS mark during this campaign.
With the King and the Brow in for most games this season, the Lakers have not come into very many matchups as the underdogs this season. It has happened a few times since both have been out, however, and the supporting cast hasn’t exactly answered the bell, going 4-7 ATS as an underdog this season.
Double-digit spreads are usually a big no-no for us, but we just can’t rock with this Lakers team considering all that they are missing, so we’re going to go way the other way on a Brooklyn NBA point spread play at -13.5 with extremely inviting +105 NBA odds as one of our top picks on this matchup.
Another NBA pick we love for this inter-conference tilt is a player prop on one of the few mainstays for the Lakers who has not had to miss time with injury this season. That would be reserve and reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Montrezl Harrell. The big man has averaged 20.0 points per game when he gets at least 20 minutes and LeBron does not play.
He played just five minutes in a game last week after receiving an early and perhaps undeserved ejection and only played 17 minutes a few nights before in a blowout of the Sacramento Kings. Apart from that pair of outliers, the former Clipper has been the most consistent scoring threat for the Lakers while their big guns have been in the shop.
We like the fiery power forward to once again lead the Lakers on the scoring sheet and cover the over on his 15.5 points prop at standard -125 NBA odds on Saturday night in a losing effort against the Nets.
- Los Angeles has gone 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings
- Los Angeles is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 against teams that have won 60 percent or more of their games
- Brooklyn is 15-7 ATS against the Western Conference this season
- Montrezl Harrell has scored 20.0 points per game when he plays 20+ minutes and LeBron James is out
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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.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will host Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in a play-in clash on Wednesday night at Staples.
The Memphis Grizzlies will host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 contest as part of the West’s play-in tournament.
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.