The short-handed Lakers and Nets face off

SHANGHAI, CHINA – OCTOBER 10: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shake hands at center court before a preseason game as part of 2019 NBA Global Games China on October 10, 2019 at Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tonight will be one of the most anticipated games of this NBA season, as the Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on the Brooklyn Nets.

The game may end up being a 2021 NBA Finals preview, as the Lakers and Nets are currently #1 and #2 in the best odds to win it all, respectively (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook). However, we sadly won’t see these two teams at full strength. Anthony Davis will continue to be out as he heals his strained calf and re-aggravated Achilles, while the Nets will be without Kevin Durant as he rests a strained hamstring. It’s still a star-studded matchup though, as LeBron James will be continuing his MVP campaign against his familiar friend Kyrie Irving as well as his familiar foe in James Harden. Since trading for Harden, the Nets are 11-5 in games that he has played in and are currently the 2nd-seed in the Eastern Conference with an 18-12 record.

The key to a great NBA team is balance between the offensive end and the defensive end, right? The Brooklyn Nets say “nah” to that. They’ve very obviously positioned themselves as an offensive-minded team with their three-headed monster, and it shows in the statistics. They have the second-best Offensive Rating in the NBA at 117.9 (Lakers are 12th at 112.2) while having the fifth-worst Defensive Rating at 114.5 (Lakers are 1st at 105.2). The game will obviously come down to who wins in the battle of the Nets’ offense against the Lakers’ defense. That might mean trouble for the Lakers, as the Nets’ offense is much better off without Durant compared to the Lakers’ defense without Davis. Still, with LeBron…anything is possible.

Here’s our preview.

Injury news

As said above, Durant and Davis will be missing this game. Kyrie Irving comes into the game probable after missing the Nets’ comeback victory against the Suns on Tuesday. His probable designation alludes to him playing tonight. Kostas Antetokounmpo will probably be out again, but other than that both teams should be healthy and good to go.

Betting central

Lakers -2.5; Over/under 232; Lakers moneyline -132 (Nets moneyline +114)

I am going to make these picks to the best of my knowledge. That means everyone reading this should FADE ME (pick against me for the non-bettors out there). I’ve been garbage lately after a 4-2 run. I’m now 6-14-1 overall on the season after a solid 0-3 on picks against the Timberwolves. Lord, help me.

My first pick will be Dennis Schröder going over 24.5 combined points, rebounds, and assists. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets close to eclipsing this total through points alone. In the last three games that Anthony Davis has missed, Schröder has gone to the line eight times at least and has totals of 31, 31, and 28 in those three games in regards to combined points, rebounds, and assists. I expect his offensive spark will again be needed against the Nets. I think he will have an even better game than Tuesday against the Timberwolves (24 points, three assists, one rebound, four steals, two blocks) as he will be going against guards that are just as bad defensively. I also think help defense from DeAndre Jordan will create even more dump-off assists for Schröder after he drives.

I’ll also take Marc Gasol over 6.5 points. His three-pointer is starting to fall as of late (6/12 in the past three games) as he made three of four on Tuesday against the T’Wolves resulting in 11 points on the night. The game was Gasol’s most points since having 12 back on December 27th, and his 29 minutes in the game were the most he’s had as a Laker so far. He was in a lot on Karl Anthony-Towns, and I expect the Lakers to do the same tonight against DeAndre Jordan (28.8 MPG in past five games). Wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan loses Gasol out at the perimeter for a few Gasol threes tonight.

Other than that…I’m sorry everyone. I’m going to go ahead and take the Nets moneyline as it has great value at +114. I personally don’t think the Lakers should be favored in this, especially after being down as much as they were leading in the T’Wolves game. This sort of feels like a wake up call for the Lakers in terms of realizing how well they need to play to win against elite teams without Anthony Davis.

Hopefully, I’m wrong (as always).

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook around 9:30 a.m. PST

Where to watch

The game will only be televised on TNT tonight. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. PST.

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