NBA Odds, Picks & Predictions: Matt Moore’s Bets for Lakers vs. Warriors Game 2 (May 4)

NBA Odds, Picks & Predictions: Matt Moore’s Bets for Lakers vs. Warriors Game 2 (May 4) article feature image

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James didn't look like himself in the Los Angeles Lakers' Game 1 win vs. the Golden State Warriors. There wasn't a stretch of unstoppable layups. His 38% from the field mark wasn't the worst of this postseason and was just 38th-worst shooting performance of his illustrious career. But James has never looked more like a big and less than a guard, more of the power and less of the forward than he did in Game 1.

And yet, on a night where James had more shots than points, where he had as many turnovers as assists, the Lakers won. L.A. won on the road vs. Stephen Curry and the Warriors in a Game 1. For reference, James had been 5-9 on the road in Game 1 of the playoffs, the Warriors had been 19-3 in home Game 1's under head coach Steve Kerr.

I have three big takeaways along with a few bets for  Lakers vs. Warriors Game 2.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors

9 p.m. ET
Point Spread: -6 | Total: 227

Golden State is now a dog (+136) to win their series vs. the No. 7 seed in the West. If the Warriors are going to win this series, all the things that worked in the first round against the Kings have to go by the wayside. They'll have to adapt to a wholly different and, honestly, more playoff-like atmosphere to win this series.

They're not going to be able to slice the Lakers up with a scalpel-like they have so many teams in their dynasty run. They'll have to hammer them. And Curry is going to have to be the one swinging.

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A Water Gun, Not a Splash Fountain

Kerr came to the Warriors in 2014 and changed NBA history forever. People forget, in their hurry to anoint the players in this league, that the Warriors, with these three same core stars, were a first-round out in 2014. Kerr's system to get Curry moving and pace and space is what made them the most spectacular modern team.

That awesome off-ball movement from Curry is what makes him so incredible. He's the rare star willing to give the ball up and sprint around multiple screens to create separation and then fire.

This is what the Warriors want:

But look at some of these early possessions:

There's Curry, the world's most dangerous offensive weapon, just … standing there. Hey here's a little off-ball screen. That's it. Other than that, he was a bystander.

I'm not saying Curry can't have any possessions off. He's on the floor so much at this point with the Warriors' compromised depth that you'll grind him into dust if he has to run heliocentric pick- and-roll.

But they kind of need him to run heliocentric pick-and-roll.

Look at the space that Anthony Davis has to provide here. Davis, one of the best defensive bigs in the history of the game, had an incredible game blocking shots and basically destroying the Warrior's hopes of success inside the arc. The Warriors shot 41% from 2-point range.

But look at this space:

And yet Curry ran a grand total of five pick-and-rolls that resulted in a shot, turnover, or foul.


The Other Warriors Can't Lift Curry Anymore

Curry's 2015 playoffs were honestly just kind of OK, relative to superstar expectations. His 2016 playoff run was compromised by injury, but even in the first two games of that NBA Finals series, the bench was honestly just as big a part of the wins as the stars.

The 2017 and 2018 runs were obviously just stacked with Kevin Durant onboard. Last season, however, Curry carried the Warriors. They won that title not on Strength in Numbers or the Splash Brothers. It was Curry's show more than ever. It was needed, and it won.

Had the Warriors' gambles on young talent worked out, maybe Curry could return to the off-ball wizardry that built the foundation of the House of Splash. But those tapestries are faded, the bricks are worn.

Curry's going to have to carry this team, especially in a matchup against the Lakers who are not going to give Golden State any of the easy buckets the Kings did. It's not that the Lakers are stacked like the Warriors teams that LeBron was forced to try and summit over and over again. It's that the Warriors aren't stacked at all.

Draymond Green may not have been figured out, but it's getting closer. Teams are leaving him open more and more, not just above the arc, but inside. Look at the cushion the Lakers give Green here and how badly he still misses this:

Here on a perimeter catch, look at how the Warriors absolutely clump to the strong side to help wall off and contest on Curry:

Klay Thompson will likely have game or games this series. Jordan Poole might, but will probably give up as much on the other end.

It's going to have to be Curry. More than ever, and like James before, Curry will have to carry the Warriors like most superstars have.

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Forget Steph vs. LeBron, It's Curry vs. Davis

The Lakers can win this series if Davis is the best player in it. He was in Game 1. Most notably, Davis hit his jumpers. He only made two buckets inside 3 feet, but dominated in the paint just outside the restricted area.

For years, James has needed someone to carry the load as he got older. Davis' injuries kept making him unreliable, putting more on him. Now, finally, it looks like Davis is ready to take the mantle. When Davis has played this season (and he hasn't played consistently) he's performed at an MVP level.

He dominated on both ends, making sure that if Curry drove, he wasn't getting any of his gliding underhand floaters:

With Davis dominating inside and putting up points off his jumper, he's capable of being the player that can lead his team over the Warriors.

Curry and James are the faces of this rivalry, but the series will come down to Curry and Davis.

Lakers-Warriors Bets

Warriors series Price: Despite all this, Curry can dominate. The Warriors looked very much surprised by the physicality and intensity. The adjustment of Game 7 vs. the Kings to Game 1 vs. the Lakers was stark.

The Lakers had five days to prep for the Warriors; Golden State had one to get ready for the Lakers. Golden State will find ways to play better defensively, and as they do, this will grind down further, and the Warriors' three-point edge will matter.

Warriors -6: Teams that lose Game 1 at home are 36-10 straight up, 27-18-1 (59%) ATS since 2003.

The Warriors will make adjustments; they are 28-10 straight up and 25-13 ATS after a loss under Kerr. They won't go down 2-0. The Lakers, on the other hand, will be satisfied with the split, just as they were with a Grizzlies team that they only lost one game, Game 2, against.

Under 227: This lost in Game 1 thanks to a faster-paced game than expected. But neither of these offenses are great. I'll come back and believe that the Warriors will do a better job defensively and a least a few of their shots will convert into 2-pointers.

Curry over 30.5 points: Curry will see more pick-and-rolls, more activity, and better looks in Game 2.

Pick: Stephen Curry Over 30.5 Points

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