The NBA has five games on the card for Christmas, and bookmakers wasted little time posting lines once the schedule was released. Thus, you can expect that those lines have already been massaged for quite some time now. However, if you’re still looking for some action, it might make sense to formulate your handicap based on relevant new information that wasn’t available when the games were announced. I’ll expand on that more as I preview the matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.
Bookmakers couldn’t have planned for a COVID-19 outbreak when the NBA first released its schedule for Christmas Day. Unfortunately, that’s precisely the scenario we have on our hands with the Lakers hosting the Nets on Saturday. The Nets are currently dealing with an outbreak within the team as there are as many as six players in health and safety protocols. While I think the bookmakers adjusted the point spread to reflect the Nets’ inactive players, somehow, I think they might’ve overlooked the total, which is currently sitting at 224.
Two critical absences for the Nets are Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge. Durant was in COVID protocols earlier, but an ankle injury will keep him sidelined for Saturday’s game. The other problem for the Nets is they haven’t played a competitive game since their 100-93 loss at home to the Magic on Dec. 18. Thus, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re a bit rusty at the start of the game after not playing for a week.
The Lakers are also dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak as five players are also in health and safety protocols. However, the most significant loss for the team is Anthony Davis, who is sidelined until mid-January with a knee injury. As a result, I think the oddsmakers were a bit too bullish when they set the total.
Moreover, there are plenty of trends that support a lower-scoring game.
- The total is 7-1 to the under in Brooklyn’s past eight games as an underdog.
- The total is 9-1 to the under in Brooklyn’s previous ten games when facing a team above .500.
- In the past seven meetings between these two teams, the total is 5-2 to the under.
In this instance, using the total as a target for some derivatives could be worthwhile. A play on the under in the first half makes plenty of sense to me, with the Nets missing their star player and not playing a competitive game for seven days. We’ve also seen the first half under cash in some of the more recent games for LA. In the past 13 Lakers’ games, the first half total is 10-3 to the under for +5.8 units.
With the first-half total at 114.5, I think the under is worth a look in this spot.
Pick: 1H under 114.5 (-116)
All NBA predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid.