Warriors vs. Lakers Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
LeBron James is back. Stephen Curry is back. The NBA is back!
And betting on one vs. the other is very much back. The NBA season tips off Tuesday night and the late game features the two players who have defined the league over the past 10 years as Curry and the Golden State Warriors look to return to dominance this season starting with a matchup against James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tuesday also marks the first regular season appearance for Russell Westbrook in the purple and gold, alongside a revamped supporting cast. This is a perfect season opener, not only because of the longstanding Curry-James rivalry, but two public, exciting teams expected to contend for the division, the conference, and the title.
I have something to tell you: I hate betting on the Tuesday openers. For whatever reason, they tend to be especially wonky. But I’m going to break my struggles this year, starting with this cap.
Golden State is Shooting Even More 3-pointers
Look, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here but … the Warriors are BACK!
Golden State was adamant in the offseason that the decision to retain both lottery picks (which turned into Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody) were not contrary to their intentions to win now. The Warriors didn’t add a star player (when several league sources were wary they would), but their small additions may have a big impact.
They added Otto Porter (shooting 55% on 3-pointers in preseason) and Nemanja Bjelica (44% from 3). Jordan Poole looks primed for a huge breakout season after leading the team in scoring in preseason.
The Warriors averaged 48.7 3-point attempts per game in the preseason. That’s both a ridiculous number and extremely exciting if you’re someone with Warriors futures (like me). Spacing around Curry is a pretty good formula.
Klay Thompson won’t be back yet for the Warriors, but Poole’s emergence may reduce the hurt of his continued absence.
One of the benefits of last season’s relatively thin rotation was the Warriors discovering who they could and could not trust among the younger rotation players. Juan Toscano-Anderson was a genuine boon on both sides of the floor.
The roster is also more veteran balanced not only with Bjelica and Porter, but Andre Iguodala’s return. Outside of Thompson and James Wiseman, the Warriors’ injury report is clean.
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Will the New-Look Lakers Gel Offensively?
The Lakers overhauled their roster in the offseason. It was less about the fit surrounding James and Anthony Davis and more about reinforcing the regular season structure and repairing chemistry concerns.
On Feb. 6 last season, the Lakers were 18-6, seventh in offense, first in defense, and had the second-best record in the league, back by a half-game. Anthony Davis missed the next game with Achilles soreness, came back for two games, and then was shut down for two months.
So you would be forgiven for asking why exactly they felt the need to completely redo the roster. However, tensions arose as the year went on with several veteran additions. Marc Gasol was annoyed at being supplanted by Andre Drummond — as he should be — while Dennis Schröder had the usual issues getting along in a locker room.
Additionally, with Davis suffering another months-long injury absence and James dealing with his second significant injury in three seasons, L.A. knew it needed another star to help carry the load.
He brings the usual concerns about spacing. The larger question is whether his net impact will be positive, not only with his raw production, but in terms of augmenting the Lakers’ physical approach.
The Lakers enter the opener after a winless preseason and are already banged up. Trevor Ariza and Talen Horton-Tucker, two players expected to be in the rotation, have already undergone surgery. Wayne Ellington and Kendrick Nunn are dealing each with an ankle sprain and are considered day-to-day.
Those injuries increase the likelihood of Carmelo Anthony’s minutes being higher and may mean fewer minutes with Davis at center due to a lack of wings (moving James to more small forward minutes).
Are the preseason struggles a sign of greater issues? Or is James, plus Davis (plus Westbrook?) enough? That’s the big question for the Lakers entering the season.
Using last season’s numbers is useless here. The Warriors were drastically different after Wiseman’s injury, and their offseason additions greatly improved the rotation. The Lakers overhauled the whole thing and James and Davis were hurt for almost the entire season. So we’re starting from scratch.
The Lakers added a number of players to help bolster their spacing in the offseason, but Ariza, Ellington, and Horton Tucker’s injuries compromise that to various degrees. The Lakers ranked 24th in both makes and attempts from 3-point range in the preseason. The Warriors ranked first in both categories. That advantage could be significant if the Lakers’ offense proves to be pedestrian as it has been the past two seasons under head coach Frank Vogel.
This will come down to whether the Lakers can slow down the Warriors’ offense enough to make up for their own offensive issues, or if the Warriors can outpace the Lakers with their perimeter barrage.
Golden State went 1-2 vs. the Lakers last season, getting destroyed in the final matchup in March before LeBron suffered his nearly-season-ending injury. In that game, Kelly Oubre was a -25, James Wiseman a -28.
That pairing was an elephant in the room for Golden State last season. It’s not fair to pin their struggles on those two players — a role player and a rookie — but it just didn’t work to a fairly obscene degree. Wiseman was still -19 in the first matchup, a Warriors win.
Anthony Davis had a 28% eFG last season with Draymond Green as the closest defender. Across the past four seasons, Davis’ eFG% is just 45.6% against Green, his average across all games in that span is 54%. Basically, if you’re building a team to bother Davis, you start with Green.
So much of the matchup is contingent on the Lakers offense. The Warriors were mediocre offensively last season (tied for 19th in Offensive Rating), however, the issues were with the bench unit, which is now bolstered by veterans.
The Lakers’ model for success is ground-and-pound, using their physicality and athleticism to overwhelm opponents with defense, leading to transition buckets. Of all their opponents, the Lakers generated their third-most points off turnovers against the Warriors last season. The Warriors’ biggest weakness is turnovers. Playing sloppy gets you in trouble against the Lakers. (Or it did, vs. the old version of the Lakers.)
The uncertainty here is difficult. The Lakers are new, but they still have James and Davis. The Warriors have upgraded, but were still a play-in team last season that added Otto Porter, Andre Iguodala, Bjelica, and two rookies. That’s before we get into the single-game variance where if the Warriors just don’t shoot well, they’re sunk.
Shooting 3’s also wasn’t sufficient last season against the Lakers. Opponents went 17-9 vs. the top 10 teams in 3-point attempts. They went 11-16, predictably, against teams top-10 in 3-point makes. So if you know how the Warriors are going to shoot Wednesday, by all means, bet that way and please let me know as well.
Ultimately, however, the evidence is in the Warriors’ favor. The key isn’t whether the Warriors make their shots, but whether the Lakers can create enough offense.
So we have to return to Westbrook.
There’s a learning curve with Westbrook. We saw it in both Houston and Washington. It’s not that you can’t produce an efficient offense with him, but it’s going to take some time.
The Lakers barely played with the Big 3 together in preseason, and several of their key components are out with injury. The Warriors and LeBron teams tend to play phenomenal games, but the Warriors have more cohesion going into this game and even a stilted, opening-night slop fest still leans towards the Warriors give the 3-point advantage.
The implied probability is 41.67% on the +140 moneyline. I don’t think that puts radical value on the Warriors, but I think this is closer to 50% than 40%, and I’m not entirely sure the Lakers should still be favored given how preseason went (and I’m not exactly a big believer in what preseason means).
I lean under based on the likelihood of one team or the other completely wetting the bed offensively. But I’m betting the Warriors on the moneyline instead of the spread.
Moneyline for home favorites in the season opener sub -150 are just 18-17 straight up since 2003. (Notably, Vogel is excellent with extra prep time, but not in openers. His teams — which are usually defined by their preparedness — are 77-63-3 against the spread (55%) and 47% when favored with more than three days before a game, though they’re just 4-5 ATS in openers. )
In a game with so many uncertainties, getting +140 or better on the healthier team is a good spot.
Pick: Warriors +140 Moneyline