The LA Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets will battle it out in their first of two scheduled matchups this season at the Staples Center. It's a game the oddsmakers believe is a sneak peek of the 2021 NBA Finals.
As the 2020-21 NBA season is already beginning to approach its halfway point, both teams are starting to notch up their play to earn the top seed in their respective conferences.
The Brooklyn Nets have won four straight games and are sitting just 1.5 games out of first place in the East. Meanwhile, the LA Lakers have won eight of their last 10 games. They will look to continue their momentum tonight as they fight to earn back first place in the West from the Utah Jazz.
As both teams will be locked in for tonight's marquee game - which will be broadcast live on TNT - it provides one of the more attractive slates of betting odds and lines.
Here, we will take a look at the two teams' statistics and trends to examine the best NBA bets for Thursday's matchup.
Fixture: Brooklyn Nets vs. LA Lakers | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Thursday, February 18th, 10 PM ET (Friday, February 19th, 8:30 AM IST)
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
NBA Bets Today: Brooklyn Nets vs. LA Lakers betting odds, lines, and over/under
Unfortunately, neither team will be heading into tonight at full strength. The defending champions will be without their seven-time All-Star, Anthony Davis. Meanwhile, the Nets will be without two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant and potentially Kyrie Irving, although the latter is listed as probable for tonight's game.
With or without Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets have shown they can put up nearly 140 points every game. However, the question when it comes to betting on the Nets is not about their impressive offense but more about their defense, or lack thereof.
The Brooklyn Nets rank in the bottom five of the league in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing 116.67 points per 100 possessions per basketball-reference. Still, since the loss to the Detroit Pistons - where they gave up 38 points in one quarter to one of the worst teams in the league - they have shown improvements.
In Brooklyn's previous game, they held the Phoenix Suns to just 49 second-half points, allowing them to overcome a 24-point deficit.
The key player to watch for the Brooklyn Nets will be James Harden. The 2018 MVP was recently given total control of the point guard position and is leading the league in assists, averaging 11.3 per game.
Harden has adapted well to the playmaking role and takes seven fewer shots than he did with the Houston Rockets. However, without Kevin Durant and potentially Kyrie Irving, James Harden will need to take total control of the offense against the LA Lakers.
Interestingly, it was the Lakers that essentially ended his run with the Houston Rockets after he lost 117-100 and scored just 16 points.
The LA Lakers have the best defensive efficiency in the league, but without Anthony Davis, they will have a massive hole in the paint. If you are to bet on the LA Lakers tonight, you are trusting their championship mentality and believe the role players will be able to step up in addition to LeBron James' typical production.
The LA Lakers have had a hard time taking care of the ball this season, despite their early success. They rank in the bottom five of the league in turnovers, giving up 15.1 a game, according to teamrankings.com.
They gave up 18 in their previous game to the Minnesota Timberwolves and could be in for a long night if they are to give Steve Nash's unit extra possession on the offensive end.
The key player for the LA Lakers will be LeBron James. He will have a heavier load without Anthony Davis in the mix and will need to work hard on both ends of the floor.
James is averaging 25.7 points on 50.4% shooting and has a +7.0 RAPTOR rating. RAPTOR is a Robust Algorithm created by fivethirtyeight.com using Player Tracking (and) On/Off Ratings.
Brooklyn Nets: +2.5 (-110)
LA Lakers: -2.5 (-110)
Brooklyn Nets: +116
LA Lakers: -136
Over: 146 (-110)
Under: 146 (-110)
Nets vs. Lakers Prediction
The best bet would be to take the Brooklyn Nets at +2.5 and the over. The LA Lakers have had several close encounters lately, including three straight overtime games, so expect a back-and-forth affair.
In the Brooklyn Nets' last 24 games, they have covered the over in 21 one of them. Expect tonight to be no different.