Warriors vs. Lakers Series Odds & Betting Preview: Steph vs. LeBron NBA Playoff Picks
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James (right) of the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s a GOAT Battle.
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors barely made it out of their series against the Sacramento Kings, but the Dynasty continues its trek towards another title. The Lakers have somehow risen from the proverbial grave and are in a position to potentially challenge for the title.
Curry is 3-1 lifetime against James in their playoff series, and we know how 3-1 works out for Curry and the boys vs. James. Will the Lakers’ incredible run continue or will the Warriors once again come out on top?
Let’s take a look at the Warriors vs. Lakers series odds and betting preview.
The Most Important Thing: Limiting Easy Buckets
This series is the opposite of Suns vs. Nuggets, which will be determined by offense. Both of these offenses are legitimately mid-to-bad. The Warriors ranked 10th in half-court offense in the first round despite facing the Kings’ porous, undersized defense. The Lakers faced a much tougher defense in Memphis, but one that was missing two crucial frontcourt players and had an even worse mark.
These two teams do not pack a lot of firepower.
This sounds crazy, given that it’s LeBron and Anthony Davis vs. the Splash Bros. But these teams’ supporting casts don’t have the kind of spacing those players used to enjoy.
So for the Lakers, they need to force turnovers to get out in transition. The Warriors are a good defensive transition team (11th per possession in the regular season), and were even better when it was such a point of emphasis vs. the Kings.
So the Lakers creating easy points the other is key. The Lakers didn’t force a lot of turnovers in the regular season (even after their trade deadline upgrades). The Warriors have a penchant for turning it over with their ball movement.
Similarly, both teams need putbacks.
The Lakers have the best big in the matchup. Davis averages 3.7 second-chance points per game so far in these playoffs, albeit in a favorable matchup vs. the Grizzlies’ depleted frontcourt.
Kevon Looney dominated Domantas Sabonis in Round 1, but will find this a harder matchup. Still, Looney’s offensive rebounds often lead to kick-outs for threes. Whoever can get more of those second-chance points for their team is going to get a big advantage.
The Warriors will also apply significantly more pressure on the Laker’s defense than the Kings. The Warriors’ offense may be middle of the pack in terms of firepower, but they exert space pressure constantly with Curry and Klay Thompson.
That means that Davis will have to cover in space in some situations, and the Lakers will have to watch the backline rim protection.
Believe it or not, that is a challenge for James right now. With age and what is likely a pretty severe foot injury, he’s slipped into some Cleveland-era habits defensively.
The Warriors, conversely, are small. Outside of Looney and Green, they don’t have many, if any, playable bigs. The Lakers have size and should be able to muscle for some.
Curry will do his thing. LeBron will do his. It’ll be up to these other “easy point” chances to determine what should be a low-scoring series.
The Pendulum: Anthony Davis
Davis has an NBA title. He was voted into the NBA 75 (which was ridiculously premature). He’s going to the Hall of Fame.
He still needs to carry the Lakers in one important moment. James is 38, on a bad foot. Davis is facing a team that will play Draymond Green against him a healthy amount of the time. He needs to win this matchup.
If Davis is the best player on the floor, the Lakers will win the game. If Davis is the best Laker in the series, the Lakers have a chance. If Davis is nether, the Laker’s margin for error is incredibly slim.
The Mirage: Depth
Neither of these teams has any of it. At all.
The bigger issue for the Lakers is that it is very likely that by Game 3 of this series, D’Angelo Russell may be unplayable. The Warriors play a decent amount of switch. If they commit that to Russell, he’ll vanish. Russell is nearly unplayable because of what he gives up on the other end defensively. He’s great against drop coverage in pick-and-roll, but he cannot beat switches. It’s why he vanished against the Grizzlies when he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their first-round series last year.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have the same issue with Jordan Poole. The Warriors might be able to play Donte DiVincenzo or steal minutes with Gary Payton II, the Lakers might be able to steal a few minutes with Malik Beasley.
But it’s going to be tight.
The Bet: Warriors -1.5 (+140)
The Lakers have matched up well with the Warriors the last few years, but with the Warriors at full strength and James banged up, there’s value in Golden State.
Golden State has a major advantage in 3-pointers per game. The Lakers allow a high number of 3s (seventh per 100 possessions) at a low percentage. They don’t have to allow a high percentage against Curry and Thompson for them to take advantage. Meanwhile, the Lakers were 24th in attempts, Pace-Adjusted
So I’ll take the Warriors, who have never lost a Western Conference Series and have always gotten at least one on the road, to finish this series in six, ending the LeBron-Steph rivalry with one last, weird chapter.
Pick: Warriors -1.5 Series Spread (+140)
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