LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets (18-12) on Thursday evening in a potential 2021 NBA Finals preview. The Lakers are looking to improve on their 22-7 record, and Los Angeles is 9-4 at home this season. The Nets, riding a four-game winning streak, will aim to climb above .500 on the road this season. Kevin Durant (ankle) is out of action for the Nets and Anthony Davis (calf) is out for the Lakers.
Tip-off is at 10 p.m. ET at Staples Center. The latest Lakers vs. Nets odds from William Hill Sportsbook list Los Angeles as a three-point favorite, up a point from the opening line. The over-under for total points expected is down to 230 after opening at 237. Before locking in any Nets vs. Lakers picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine's proven computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it returned over $5,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks last season. The model is also up more than $8,400 on top-rated NBA picks over the past two-plus seasons. Dating back to last season, it enters Week 9 of the 2020-21 NBA schedule on a stunning 83-48 roll on top-rated NBA picks against the spread. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Nets vs. Lakers spread: Lakers -3
- Nets vs. Lakers over-under: 230 points
- Nets vs. Lakers money line: Lakers -150; Nets +130
- BKL: The Nets are 6-4 against the spread in the last 10 games
- LAL: The Lakers are 4-6 against the spread in the last 10 games
Why the Nets can cover
The Nets are almost unguardable on the offensive end. Brooklyn is the third-best offense on a per-possession basis this season, scoring nearly 1.18 points every time they have the ball. Since adding James Harden in mid-January, though, the Nets have been the No. 1 offense in the league, scoring 120.9 points per 100 possessions. Brooklyn leads the NBA in true shooting percentage (62.4 percent) and effective field goal percentage (58.8 percent) with a stellar combination of shot creation and floor spacing.
The Nets are also a top-10 team in generating free throw attempts, and they limit their opponents from getting to the line at the seventh-best rate in the league. While Los Angeles has few weaknesses, one is ball security, as the Lakers turn the ball over on 15.1 percent of possessions. That could provide fuel for Brooklyn's devastating transition offense.
Why the Lakers can cover
Though the Nets are loaded in their own right, the Lakers can still claim the top player on the floor in Thursday's matchup in James. He is a leading NBA MVP candidate this season, averaging 25.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game while shooting more than 50 percent from the floor. He is the centerpiece of an above-average offense, and James remains arguably the league's top individual performer. In addition, the Lakers are an elite defensive team and, while Brooklyn is tremendous offensively, the Nets are very shaky on the other end.
The Nets are 26th in the NBA in defensive rating, giving up 114.5 points per 100 possessions for the season. In the last 11 games, Brooklyn's defense has been even worse, allowing 121.1 points per 100 possessions, and the Nets are third-worst in the league in creating turnovers, forcing a giveaway on only 12.0 percent of defensive possessions.
How to make Nets vs. Lakers picks
SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, projecting both teams combine for 232 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits in over 60 percent of simulations. You can get that pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Nets vs. Lakers? And which side of the spread hits over 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the spread you need to jump on, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks.