The Los Angeles Lakers trudge to the Barclays Center without their big two for a head-to-head showdown with the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night. Even competing with the Nets will be an uphill battle for a Lakers team without LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the floor. They’re coming off a 110-104 loss on the road to the Miami Heat. Meanwhile, the Nets have won back-to-back games against the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks.
“Thunderstorm” coming for the Lakers?LeBron James warned the rest of the league to expect a “thunderstorm” when he returns to the floor alongside fellow perennial All-Star Anthony Davis. That’s obviously great news for Lakers fans that have patiently watched the team slide in the Western Conference standings without their big-two on the floor.
They recently dropped a 110-104 loss on the road to the Miami Heat.
The eventual return of James and Davis would instantly make the Lakers favorites again to win the Western Conference. But you’re kidding yourself if you believe for one second the Brooklyn Nets would be shaking in their boots.
The Lakers’ big-two will have a front row seat to their team going head-to-head with one of the greatest offensive teams ever assembled in basketball. Brooklyn is averaging 120 points per game on the road, and the Lakers will face the daunting task of figuring out a way to slow them down. There clearly is no stopping Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, even for a Lakers team that has actually held up well defensively despite being shorthanded.
The problem will come in their attempt to outscore the Nets. They clearly don’t have enough firepower to go blow-for-blow with the juggernauts of the east. It doesn’t help matters that Kyle Kuzma is listed as questionable to play with a calf injury. So the team could essentially be down three of their top-five scoring options.
No need to rush HardenNets star guard James Harden is reportedly out indefinitely with a hamstring strain.
He carried the load while Kevin Durant was sidelined with a hamstring injury as well, and it only makes sense for him to get some much-needed rest ahead of a likely deep postseason run. That’s the beauty of playing with a team loaded with so much superstar talent.
If Harden was back in Houston, the Rockets might have fallen off a cliff without him on the floor.
And yet, even without him playing, the Nets will still be in the business of winning with the dynamic duo of Durant and Kyrie Irving. They just dropped 139 points in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
It’ll be business as usual against a Lakers team that’s barely getting by without their star players on the floor. Granted, the Nets will have to respect their defense considering they were held to only 109 points when these two teams last met back in February. But that Lakers team also still had James on the floor, while the Nets played without Durant.
The Lakers have fallen to the bottom of the league in average turnovers per game. Even with the defensive issues for the Nets, they’ll have opportunities to nab takeaways and turn them into easy buckets at the other end of the floor. This Lakers team is far from a finished product, and the Nets should treat them as such by being in constant attack mode.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Lakers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog.
- Lakers are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road games against a team with a winning home record.
- Lakers are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a winning % above .600.
- Lakers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Saturday games.
- Nets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games against a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
- Nets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games against a team with a winning % above .600.
- Nets are 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games against a team with a winning straight up record.
- Nets are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after scoring more than 125 points in their previous game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This will be one of those statement performances from the Nets.
It’ll be the last game they’ll play against the Lakers in the regular season, and they’ll be wanting to make an example ahead of the playoffs with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis watching from the sidelines. It’s a chance at a last flex before a possible NBA Finals meeting in the playoffs.
The Lakers have held up well defensively even without their star players, but they haven’t faced anything like the monstrous offensive machine they’ll run into on Saturday. Kevin Durant has a wingspan the size of Reed Richards, and Kyrie Irving has put more star athletes on skates than the Winter Olympics.
They can’t be stopped.
The Nets have won their last nine consecutive home games with an opportunity to make it their 10th against the defending champions. Everything about this game feels like fate, and that isn’t a good thing for the Lakers.
I’m laying the big points and rolling with Brooklyn.
Full-Game Total Pick
Turnovers will lead to the Lakers’ offensive undoing in this game. They are averaging a ridiculous 21 turnovers in their last three outings. That’s a bad sign when heading on the road against the same Nets team that held them to only 98 points when these two teams came to blows in February. And LeBron James was on the floor for that game.
Not only will the Lakers be without James and Anthony Davis, but they could also be missing Kyle Kuzma as well. The hits just keep on coming for a team that’s clearly overmatched heading on the road against the juggernaut Nets. Give me the under in this one.