NBA Play-In Tournament Odds, Pick, Prediction for Warriors vs. Lakers: Betting Preview for Star-Filled Matchup (Wednesday, May 19)

NBA Play-In Tournament Odds, Pick, Prediction for Warriors vs. Lakers: Betting Preview for Star-Filled Matchup (Wednesday, May 19) article feature image
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Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers face off in the third game of the NBA Play-In Tournament, which is arguably the most anticipated game of the season.
  • The Lakers opened as 7-point favorites and have moved to -5.5 ahead of Wednesday's game.
  • Joe Dellera details why there is value on L.A. in the battle between Curry and LeBron.

Warriors vs. Lakers Odds

Warriors Odds +4.5
Lakers Odds -4.5
Moneyline +165 / -200
Over/Under 219.5
Time Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Monday and via BetMGM

This game is everything the NBA could have dreamed of when they constructed the play-in tournament.

Warriors vs. Lakers, a postseason rematch for two all-time greats in Stephen Curry and LeBron James. While I’m sure Adam Silver would not be happy to see either of Curry or James miss the playoffs entirely, the loser of this game will still have a chance to make the final 16-team tournament.

This game will be must-see TV and might even be the most watched game of the entire postseason. Let’s break down this matchup that has already seen a line move of over 2.5 points on the spread.

Warriors Relying on Red-Hot Curry

The Warriors have been red hot over the past two weeks, having optimized their offense that runs through Steph Curry.

Curry finished the regular season as the NBA scoring champion after averaging 32 points per game with an absurd usage rate of 33.6% and 134.2 points per 100 shot attempts.

Curry willed the Warriors into the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They finished the regular season 11-5 with a +6.7 point differential in that span. Golden State’s offense has been good enough, but its defense is actually second best in the league over that stretch, having only allowed opponents to score 107.8 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass.

The key for the Warriors is can their defense actually contain the Lakers’ size? If Anthony Davis plays center, how do they even matchup? Kevon Looney? Draymond Green? But who covers James in that scenario? It’s an impossible situation. Even if the Lakers try to play a more traditional big such as Andre Drummond or Marc Gasol, the Warriors just do not have the bigs to match up well.

One advantage the Warriors have is Curry. If the Lakers give Drummond, Gasol or Montrezl Harrell extended minutes, expect Curry to hunt them in the pick and roll to create space and a mismatch on the perimeter. It’s a tall task, but when you’re as lethal of a shooter as Curry there’s always a chance.

Injuries Derailed Lakers’ Regular Season

The Lakers have been ravaged by injuries this season, but they finally seem to have their complete lineup despite some lingering issues between James’ ankle, Anthony Davis’ various injuries and Dennis Schröder emerging from the league’s health and safety protocols.

This Lakers team is extremely talented and although they are looking to repeat as champions, this iteration is different than last year’s.

The Lakers relied primarily on their defense during the regular to keep them afloat. They gave up the second fewest points per 100 possessions (108.0) this season, and a lot credit can be given to Frank Vogel for not only navigating those injuries but utilizing the personnel he did have to the best of his ability. The Lakers have had the opportunity to give other players extended run, namely Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker, and now they are key cogs in the rotation.

One of the reasons the Lakers are so strong defensively is they lock down the perimeter. Los Angeles limits opponents’ attempts, and their opponents shoot just 36% from 3-point range (fourth best in the league and about 1.2% below league average), per Cleaning the Glass.

The Lakers’ length helps. Not only do they have high energy players such as Schröder and Alex Caruso, having wings like James and Horton-Tucker to go with Davis down low is crucial in closing out 3-point attempts. They’re perfectly designed to torture the Warriors, who rely so heavily on Curry to score.

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Warriors-Lakers Pick

This is not the regular season and we have seen how Vogel adapts and makes adjustments before series during the playoffs. This is a single game with postseason implications, and adjusting before the matchup is critical.

I expect the Lakers to shy away from minutes with their traditional bigs who cannot defend the perimeter via the switch (i.e. Gasol, Drummond, Harrell) and play more minutes with Davis at center. They may test the waters at first with Drummond to see how effectively Curry does against him in pick and rolls, but the leash will be short before Vogel pulls him to limit that mismatch.

When Curry is off the floor, the Warriors score 15.2 points less per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. He might have to play the entire game for the Warriors to have a chance, and he’s averaged 37.8 minutes per game in his playoff career.

Given the number of players the Lakers can throw at Curry on defense, I don’t expect a massive scoring output from him. Even if he drops 50 points, the Warriors will likely need another 60 from the rest of their team. I don’t see that happening against one of the league’s elite defenses. As a result, I’m leaning on the under 219.5.

The bet that I prefer is the spread, which has moved down from Lakers -7 to Lakers -4.5.

It’s stunning. I think there is tremendous value on the Lakers in this spot and love it under -6. The Lakers will want to secure this victory and rest up before a first-round matchup with the Suns.

Pick: Lakers -4.5

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