Warriors vs. Lakers NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Los Angeles Should Have No Trouble With Golden State (January 18)
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James blocking a shot.
- The Lakers are nearly a double-digit favorite over the Warriors in Monday's NBA finale.
- Raheem Palmer's projections make L.A. a slightly bigger favorite, despite Golden State's resurgence in the last two weeks.
- Get his full breakdown for Lakers vs. Warriors below:
Warriors vs. Lakers Odds
|Warriors Odds||+8.5 [BET NOW]|
|Lakers Odds||-8.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-420/+320 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||226.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
Can you believe it’s been more than two years since the last time we’ve seen LeBron James match up against Steph Curry?
After their teams competed in four straight NBA Finals from 2015 through 2018 and became one of the best rivalries in the league, the pair has met just once since, despite James joining the Western Conference ahead of the 2019 season.
That game was Christmas 2019 and the Lakers won 127-101 despite James suffering what wound up being the first significant injury of his career, a strained left groin that derailed LA’s season, eventually causing them to miss the playoffs. Curry has had injury issues of his own, of course, missing all but five games of the 2019-20 season with a broken hand.
With both stars healthy, they finally meet again — albeit under much different circumstances. James is attempting to lead the 11-3 Lakers to their second straight title, while Curry hopes to bring the 6-6 Warriors back to respectability during the absence of Klay Thompson and following the departure of Kevin Durant after the 2018 season.
The Lakers come into this matchup winners of five straight, while the Warriors hope to rebound from their two-game losing streak which dropped them to .500. With these two teams headed in opposite directions, oddsmakers have installed the hometown Lakers as 8.5-point favorites with an over/under of 226.5. So where is the betting value in this matchup?
Golden State Warriors
After starting the season with blowout losses against the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, the Warriors have been respectable, winning six out of eight games before dropping back-to back games against the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers.
As a whole, the Warriors have primarily beat up on bad teams, as four of their six wins have come against the Bulls (5-8), Pistons (3-9), Kings (5-9) and Raptors (4-8). However, they do have a a 137-122 rout of the 8-5 Trail Blazers, as well as a 22-point comeback win against the 10-4 Clippers under their belt.
The Warriors go as Curry goes. He’s not playing at his MVP levels from 2015 & 2016, but you could still make a case for his candidacy given his importance to this team. While the on/off numbers don’t reflect it given how this starting unit performs against other starting units, Curry is third in scoring at 28.4 points per game while also dishing 6.2 assists and grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game.
In some ways, Curry and his gravity might be the lone saving grace of this starting lineup (Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr., James Wiseman) that has an Offensive Rating of 92.8, a Defensive Rating of 103.6 and a net rating of -10.8 in 114 minutes this season.
Take a look at this play in which the Warriors run a simple floppy action and Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell all switch onto Curry, leaving Wiggins open for a wide-open dunk.
Despite Curry’s gravity leading to wide-open looks for teammates, the Warriors still rank just 25th in Offensive Rating, scoring just 106.6 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to CleaningTheGlass. The Warriors are shooting just 35.4% from three-point range, 25th in the league.
At some point, it doesn’t matter how much spacing Curry provides when Oubre is shooting 19.4% from three on 5.5 attempts per game and Green is no longer the 3-point shooter he once was.
With Wiggins being the only competent 3-point shooter in the starting lineup, teams can essentially trap Curry with impunity, knowing that if they get the ball out of his hands, they can slow this offense down.
With the Warriors shooting below average in every area of the floor, teams have no problem employing high school defenses like the box-and-one, knowing the Warriors don’t have the personnel to punish them for it.
In Warriors wins, Curry is averaging 34.7 points per game while shooting 43.4% from three-point range. The average winning margin is 11.3 points. In Warriors losses, Curry is averaging just 22.2 points per game and is shooting just 29.8% from three. They’re losing these games by an average of 19.3 points per game.
The Warriors rank just 17th in Defensive Rating, allowing 110.5 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to CleaningTheGlass. We have seen noticeable improvement since the return of Green as the defense has allowed just 105 points per 100 possessions during the last two weeks.
But as good as Green is defensively, he can’t do it by himself, and part of defense is closing out possessions by rebounding the ball, which the Warriors struggle with, ranking dead last in rebound percentage (47.4%) and 25th in defensive rebound rate (71.4%).
Against a Lakers team with a ton of size on the front line in Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell, this could be a major issue.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers appear to be another dynasty in the making and have shown it throughout their 11-3 start this season. Despite early losses to the Clippers and Blazers, this team has turned it on and hasn’t skipped a beat since winning the championship just months ago in the bubble. Although they’ve replaced five key rotational pieces, the additions of Harrell, Gasol, Dennis Schröder and Wesley Matthews have worked out thus far.
The Lakers rank third in Offensive Rating in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass (116.7) and first in Defensive Rating (104.6). As great as their defense was last season, they’re even better this year as they’re holding teams to the fourth-lowest effective field goal percentage (51.1%).
Despite coming off the grind of a championship run just a few months ago, the Lakers are at the top of the league in many of NBA.com’s hustle stats, leading the league in charges drawn per game (1.21) and percentage of loose balls recovered on defense (60.6%), while also ranking top 10 in total deflections.
When this defense gets stops, they’re good at cleaning up the glass, as they’re one of best rebounding teams in the league, ranking second in Rebound Rate (53.2%) and third in Defensive Rebound rate (76.1).
They did take a step back on the offensive glass with the departure of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, but they’re still ninth in Offensive Rebound Rate (28.0%) and fifth in points per putback (22.5).
One of their few slip-ups was a 118-109 loss against the San Antonio Spurs. Davis called out the team following the defeat and since then, they’ve allowed just 99 points per game and 98 points per 100 possessions. Their back-to-back blowout wins over the Rockets last week essentially broke James Harden and ended his chapter in Houston which says a lot about how good this team is, considering that in some ways they’re just coasting.
Case in point: James is he’s playing a career-low 31.8 minutes per game and is averaging just 24.1 points per game, the lowest output since his rookie year. Davis is also putting up his lowest scoring output since his sophomore season at 21.7 points per game.
The Lakers’ depth this season with the addition of Schröder and Harrell means they can survive stretches without playing James and Davis heavy minutes. They’re legitimately 11 deep, meaning they’re built to dominate in the regular season as well as make a deep run in the playoffs.
The NBA has done a solid job in recent years of eliminating back-to-backs and three-in-four-nights before big national TV games. This is the perfect example of that, as both teams are well-rested coming into this matchup with the Warriors last playing on Thursday and the Lakers last playing Friday.
Without travel or lack of rest impacting this game, we can simply handicap this matchup for what it is. Motivation shouldn’t be a factor, and given Golden State’s dominance over James teams in Cleveland, you have to wonder if you’ll see a more fired up James in this one.
I’m not one of to use too many motivational factors in my handicapping, but these are two teams in completely different weight classes. The Lakers have the best defense in the league. While there’s still some question marks given their level of competitors thus far, the Warriors certainly qualify among the less-than-stellar teams the Lakers have beaten up on to this point.
The Warriors are just 25th in Offensive Rating and facing a Lakers team that is locked in defensively. If Curry can’t put up one of the vintage Curry performances we’ve seen in a few Golden State wins this season, the Warriors just don’t have much of a chance in this one.
The market currently has this game at Lakers -8.5 with a total of 226.5, however, my projections make this game Lakers -12.23 with a total of 217. The last five Warriors games have gone under the total with the last three Lakers game going under the total as well.
Despite stars like James, Davis and Curry, these are two under teams this season as the Warriors are 4-8 to the over and the Lakers are 4-10 to the over. With the Lakers playing the slowest pace in the league and having the league’s top ranked defense, I think the Warriors have trouble scoring in this one.
Pick: Lakers -8.5 & Under 226.5
James Wiseman under 6.5 rebounds (-122)
Wiseman may look the part against some teams, but the defending champs are another thing altogether.
No team in the league can match the Lakers inside the arc, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis dominating down low, plus Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol — as if those first two weren’t enough. The Lakers are big and tough and physical, and as ready as Wiseman has looked at times, he’s just no match right now against these grown men.
This feels like it could be a “Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid” type game for Wiseman against a mammoth front line that makes even Wiseman look small. He’s gone under 6.5 rebounds in eight of 12 games, and I think he’s under again here. FanDuel has this prop at -122, so I’ll play to -145 and look to wrap up the night with a win.