Lakers vs Warriors: Fade the Dubs As Home Favorites

NBA expert Kenny Ducey offers a betting prediction and pick for Lakers vs. Warriors on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Lakers vs. Warriors Odds

Lakers Odds +6
Warriors Odds -6
Moneyline +190 / -230
Over/Under 243
Time Thursday, 10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The All-Star break came at the wrong time for the Lakers and Warriors. Both teams reeled off six wins in the seven games heading into the hiatus, and now find themselves on a collision course as the season resumes in the Bay Area.

Do we trust Golden State enough to lay points here, even with LeBron James out of the lineup?

Let’s get to our Lakers vs. Warriors prediction and pick.

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Lakers Making More 3s

The biggest story in this game is the absence of James, who is taking an extended break as he tries to get his ankle back to 100%. He’ll join Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood on the bench. Max Christie is also questionable, so this offense could be in flux.

The Lakers have surprisingly decided they can shoot the 3 after all. They’ve shifted from a team that shot from deep at the third-lowest frequency for much of this season to one that shoots 3s one-third of the time since the start of February.

The results have certainly warranted this uptick, as the Lakers rank third in 3-point shooting this month at 40.5%, according to Cleaning the Glass. Christie has been one of the better shooters on this team, though, as has James.

The Lakers still have Austin Reaves, Taurean Prince, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell to lean on, all of whom have shot 40% or better from 3. It’s also worth noting that Los Angeles has shot almost a point better from 3 on the road this season, and 1.5 percentage points higher since the start of January.

Regardless of how the Lakers’ lineup shakes out, the issue is that the Warriors’ improved defense in February has resulted in them becoming the league’s sixth-best team at defending the 3. The Lakers have leveled back up on the defensive end, too, ranking 10th in efficiency this month.

Warriors Defense Stepping Up

For the majority of the season, it seemed Draymond Green’s biggest impact would come on the offensive end, but ever since returning from his suspension, the Warriors’ defensive play has resembled the units of old.

Golden State is eighth in points allowed per 100 possessions in February, but most of that has had to do with its efficiency stopping the 3. The Warriors are still just 14th in rim defense, which we’ve grown accustomed to seeing with an undersized team. They do, though, rank fourth in rebounding.

On offense, Golden State has gotten to the rim at a decent clip in February and ranks 14th in finishing from within four feet. The Warriors haven’t shot an inordinate number of 3-pointers, but with the way Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Brandin Podziemski have shot the ball from the outside, this team has torched opponents from 3. The outside shot has been the way to kill the Lakers all season, but this month they’ve ranked seventh in defending the 3.

The good news for the Warriors is the majority of their injury concerns are in the past. Chris Paul remains out, but even Gary Payton II looks like he should play after suffering a hamstring injury.

Lakers vs. Warriors Prediction, Pick

The Lakers are 3-4 against the spread this season without James. They’ve covered in their past two games without him, though, and have come incredibly close on almost every occasion. The previous two spots without James show that the Lakers are finally learning to defend again and getting meaningful contributions from their shooters.

This is a very tough spot to lay the points with the Warriors. They’re a dreadful 7-14 against the spread as home favorites this season and 11-16-1 ATS at home overall. Additionally, they’re just 12-9 straight up as home favorites and have tended to let close games get away from them in the Bay Area.

Los Angeles should match up exceptionally with Golden State at the 3-point line, and with the Warriors’ constant struggles to defend the rim, Anthony Davis may flip this game in the Lakers’ favor. I think there’s a lot of value on the Lakers to take this one outright, so the points here are a no-brainer.

Pick: Lakers +6.5 (-110)