The Los Angeles Lakers are on a tight schedule, and after the clash with the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, they head to Barclays Center on Thursday to meet the Brooklyn Nets. These two interconference foes will meet for the first time this season, and the Nets defeated the Lakers in both last season’s encounters. Brooklyn has been awful lately, losing 11 of their previous 13 games overall, and the Nets will have a tall task to snap their skid against the best team in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are coming in full strength, while the Nets have some injury worries. DeAndre Jordan (finger) and Nicolas Claxton (shoulder) are both questionable to play.
The Lakers opened as 5.5-point favorites with the total at 227.0 points. Although they’ll play back-to-back, coming off a tight battle against the Knicks, the Lakers are firm favorites to tally another victory in New York.
What’s at Stake?
At the moment, the Lakers are topping the Western Conference, four games ahead of the Utah Jazz. Still, the Lakers are 3.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks in the race for the best record in the league. On the other side, the Nets are No. 8 seed in the East, just 2.5 games ahead of the ninth-placed Detroit Pistons. Brooklyn desperately needs to put an end to its losing streak.
The Lakers beat the New York Knicks 100-92 last night to bounce back from a heavy 139-107 defeat at the Boston Celtics on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On the other side, the Nets are riding a four-game losing streak following a 117-111 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
As it’s expected, the Lakers rely a lot on Anthony Davis (26.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG) and LeBron James (25.1 PPG, 10.8 APG). The Nets will have a difficult job to slow down these two guys even though Brooklyn’s defensive rating over the last 15 games is fifth-best in the NBA (107.2). Also, the Nets surrender 44.4 points in the paint in that span (6th in the league).
Brooklyn’s problems are on the other side of the ball. The Nets score only 105.7 points per 100 possessions (26th) on 44.0% shooting from the field (24th) and 33.2% from beyond the arc (28th). They will have to execute much better on the offensive end if they want to upset the odds and beat the Lakers who are one of the best defensive teams in the league.
The Lakers allow 105.4 points per 100 possessions (3rd) on 44.0% shooting from the field (5th) and 33.7% from downtown (tied-5th). Also, they yield 22.7 assists per 100 possessions (8th) while forcing 15.6 turnovers (15.6). The Lakers lead the league in blocks per 100 possessions (7.3), and their interior defense is excellent.
The key factor for the Lakers is a good defensive job on the Nets’ backcourt. Spencer Dinwiddie (21.8 PPG, 6.4 APG) and Kyrie Irving (26.5 PPG, 6.9 APG) will try to drive the lane as much as they can, but the Nets will have to shoot the ball well, especially from beyond the arc.
Although the Nets have been awful lately, suffering 11 losses in their last 13 outings, I think they stand a chance against the Lakers in this one. The Lakers had a tough game against the Knicks last night and could struggle with fatigue. Also, the Nets will be highly motivated to snap their skid against one of the best teams in the league. They need a solid shooting night to keep it close, so I would buy a few points and take the Nets to cover an 8-point spread.
When it comes to the totals, the under has hit in 12 of the last 13 encounters between the Lakers and Nets in Brooklyn. I’ve spoken about their defenses and key factors in this clash, so I would go with the under on the totals. The Nets like to play at a fast pace, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea against the Lakers. Brooklyn will have to play tough defense, while the Nets will need to be smart and patient on the offensive end if they want to avoid another loss.