It is a matchup of second-place teams on Thursday as the Brooklyn Nets (18-12, 2nd in the East) take on the Los Angeles Lakers (22-7, 2nd in the West). Los Angeles will host this one at the Staples Center, with a tip-off scheduled for 10:00 pm ET.
Brooklyn comes into this one on a four-game winning streak, including a 128-124 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. In the win, James Harden had 38 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds, while Joe Harris added 22 points of his own.
Kevin Durant will be out versus the Lakers as he deals with a hamstring issue, but Kyrie Irving is probable after sitting out the last game with a back issue.
The defending champion Lakers have been playing like they want to repeat as of late, winning eight of their last nine. Their lone loss was a 122-105 road loss to the Denver Nuggets last Sunday. That loss came with an even higher price, though, as Anthony Davis will now miss the next several weeks with an Achilles injury.
The Lakers are slight favorites playing at home. The Lakers are -142 to win while the Nets’ moneyline sits at +120. The spread features the Nets +2.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, Brooklyn has been the best team in the NBA this season. They currently rank atop the list in scoring, averaging 121.7 points (132.7 over their last three games). The Lakers come in 14th averaging 112.9 points per game.
Defensively, it is all Los Angeles. They currently rank 2nd in scoring defense, allowing 105.8 points per game to opponents. The Nets fall to 28th in the league allowing an average of 117.9 points per game.
Brooklyn Looking To Keep Surge Going
Having won four in a row, the Nets have moved up the Eastern Conference rankings and now sit just a game and a half behind the 76ers for the top spot. They will try to improve on their 7-7 road record as they take on the defending champions on Thursday.
With Kevin Durant out, Kyrie Irving and James Harden will lead the way for the Nets. This season, Irving has averaged 28.3 points per game on 53.4% shooting. He is also adding 4.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Again, Irving sat out their last game but is expected to be a go for this one.
James Harden has been equally as impressive this season, especially since joining the Nets. In total, he is averaging 24.5 points per game on 48.2% shooting. He is also adding 7.3 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game.
One other notable contributor this season has been Joe Harris. He has quietly had a really nice season averaging 14.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Lakers Trying To Weather Storm Without Davis
With Anthony Davis out for the foreseeable future, the Lakers are hoping to stay hot in a loaded Western Conference. They are currently just a game and a half behind the top-seeded Utah Jazz, but they are also just one game ahead of the third-place Clippers.
Leading the way for the Lakers has been future Hall-of-Famer LeBron James. This season, he is averaging almost a triple-double with 25.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game.
With Davis out, the Lakers will need Dennis Schroder (14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists), Montrezl Harrell (13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds), and Kyle Kuzma (10.8 points, 6 rebounds) to step up.
Taking The Nets And The Points
This really feels like it could go either way. Both teams have been playing exceptionally well as of late, but both are also missing superstars in the Nets’ Kevin Durant and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis.
I expect this to be a high-scoring affair and could be a matchup that comes down to the wire. With the potential for a close game, I am taking the points. For my money, I like Brooklyn +2.5.