The NBA’s annual Christmas slate is finally approaching. These matchups always highlight the league’s long-standing rivalries, entertaining teams, and championship contenders. This year is no different.
Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the upcoming meeting between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, two NBA title hopefuls featuring some of the greatest players in the Association.
Please note that all odds and lines are current as of 9:45 a.m. ET on Friday, December 24.
Garrett Chorpenning NBA Betting Record: 2-2
Nets vs Lakers Game Pick
Despite their collective talent, the Lakers have been horribly inconsistent thus far. For every encouraging win, there’s been an equally devastating loss, and there’s been more of the latter than the former lately.
Injuries have been part of the problem for LeBron James, who’s already missed double-digit games as he approaches his 37th birthday later this month. Even when he’s been able to take the floor, however, Los Angeles is still hovering right around the .500 mark.
The bigger issues have been ball control, a lack of shooting, and poor defensive execution. LA ranks near the bottom of the league in turnovers per game, doesn’t convert many three-pointers, and has made a surprising turnaround from being one of the best defensive teams in the NBA to a middling one.
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The Nets, on the other hand, have mostly lived up to expectations. Kevin Durant has been terrific, James Harden is finding his groove, and role players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, and DeAndre’ Bembry have proven to their recent success.
Brooklyn’s offense isn’t as potent as it was last year due to Kyrie Irving‘s absence, but it has steadily improved since the season began. Even when things get stagnant on that end, the Nets have found success in getting to the free-throw line. The defense has been excellent too, which is a pleasant surprise.
Perhaps their biggest weakness, though, has been offensive rebounding. An inability to generate extra possessions has been their downfall in several of their losses this season, particularly against the Eastern Conference’s elite teams.
If the Lakers can take advantage of Brooklyn’s rebounding woes and score in transition, they could be able to steal this one. However, it feels more likely that the Nets make light work of the Lakers’ defense and capitalize on their offensive flaws en route to a big win.
Nets vs Lakers Christmas Prediction: Nets 111, Lakers 104
Nets vs Lakers Christmas Betting Picks
Best Bet: Nets Moneyline (+100) at Caesars (would bet up to -120)
Wager: 1 Unit
Given how inconsistent the Lakers have been this season — paired with the fact that the Nets have not been stellar against the spread — I’d prefer to pick an outright winner over anything else.
We’re going with the Nets here for a few of the reasons outlined above, but there’s one thing we haven’t discussed in detail that should play into Brooklyn’s favor: Fouls.
The Lakers are a particularly foul-happy team, and as such, teams head to the free-throw line more often and earn more free points against them. The Nets should be able to take particular advantage of this fault, especially since they already rank near the top of the league in free-throw attempts per game.
Harden isn’t quite the foul magnet he used to be, but he still gets to the line quite often and should be able to exploit this flaw.
Even if they can’t win on the glass, Brooklyn’s efficiency at the stripe and from beyond the arc could be enough to overcome those struggles. Take the Nets with your NBA bet of the day as long as they’re underdogs.
Best Bet: Under 224 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
Although these teams do tend to run more up-tempo offenses, I’m anticipating that this will be a slower-paced, more methodical game.
We can write off the importance of regular-season games all we want, but there’s a palpable difference on the court when two title contenders are facing off — especially on a day as significant to the league as Christmas.
Granted, the circumstances of the NBA’s COVID situation have turned this game from one highlighting the league’s best stars to a matchup between the shells of two hopeful contenders, but that’s perhaps another reason why the Under could hit here.
Atmosphere aside, the Nets are a surprisingly sound defensive team, and the Lakers can clamp down when needed. Both teams should score 100+ points, but neither will put up enough to carry this one to the Over.
I would bet the Under down to 220 before considering the Over here. Keep an eye on our NBA gameday odds to track when or if this one starts to move down.