LA is favored by 11 points in their second meeting with Brooklyn
The Nets and Lakers will conclude their two game season series tonight in Los Angeles. The Lakers took care of business against the Nets when these two teams faced off at the Barclays Center back in January as LA beat Brooklyn 128-113. Kyrie Irving did play in that game and recorded 20 points, but the Nets were no match for the best in the West. LeBron posted a triple-double against Brooklyn his first time out, going for 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Lakers also had five other players besides LeBron put up double-digit scoring figures. The deciding factor in that first game turned out to be the ineffectiveness of Spencer Dinwiddie who was held to just seven points and a +/- rating of negative seven. Without Kyrie Irving, I fear the Nets may be in for an even worse beating than the last time these teams met.
The Lakers are surging right now, which is bad news for a Nets team that has lacked consistency most of the year. LA is the top seed in the Western Conference playoff race at the moment and has already clinched a spot in the postseason with a 49-13 record. Furthermore, Los Angeles comes into this matchup on a four-game win streak, and they have beaten some of the best teams in the league during this stretch. Over their last four games, the Lakers have found victories over the Pelicans, the 76ers, the Clippers, and the Milwaukee Bucks. I am truly impressed with how well LA handled that gauntlet of games. In fact, the Lakers are 11-1 in their last 12 games, with their lone loss coming against the Memphis Grizzlies back on Saturday. I expect LA to continue their winning ways tonight when they face off against the Nets at home in the Staples Center.
I think LeBron James has catapulted his name to the top of the MVP ballot. Sure, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s numbers are better this year than last year, but LeBron has taken his game to another level in recent outings. His averages over his past nine games boggle the mind. During this stretch, LeBron is averaging 30.3 points per game while shooting the ball at 54.6% clip. On top of that, he is also averaging 10 assists per game as well as 8.2 rebounds per game. Even in his 16th season, King James is still finding new ways to impress us and show us that he really can do it all.
LeBron has not found success this season alone though. In fact, Anthony Davis leads the Lakers in points per game this season with 26.7 PPG! The former Kentucky big man also leads the team in rebounds per game with 9.4. His numbers have been even better recently! The guy is averaging 27.7 points over his last nine games. Last year was a fluke season for Anthony Davis that made him look bad because he was dealing with nagging injuries. I knew he would return to form in a better situation. AD has clearly re-established himself as one of the five or ten best basketball players in the NBA today.
The Nets are pretty good, but they don’t have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the best team in the Western Conference. Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert will have decent games, but their numbers alone will not be enough to lift the Nets to victory. Plus, the Lakers have the third best scoring defense in the NBA, while the Nets are 18th in scoring offense. Also, it should be mentioned that the Lakers have hit the highest percent of their field goals in the NBA this season. On the other hand, Brooklyn is 26th in the league in field goal percentage. 11 points is a tough spread to cover, but I have faith in LeBron and the Lakers to get things done against one of the weaker teams in the NBA’s potential playoff pool.