Lakers vs. Warriors: L.A. Is Undervalued in Game 2

Action Network contributor Kenny Ducey previews how to bet Lakers vs. Warriors Game 2, including updated odds, picks and predictions for Thursday's game.

Lakers vs. Warriors Odds

Lakers Odds +6
Warriors Odds -6
Over/Under 227.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

After owning the Warriors during the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers went into San Fransisco and stunned Golden State at home on Tuesday night. Despite a furious comeback from the reigning champs, the Lakers held on and took Game 1 and home-court advantage their Western Conference semifinals series.

With a 1-0 series lead, can LeBron James and company grab a stranglehold of this series? Let’s break it all down in our Lakers vs. Warriors Game 2 preview.

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Los Angeles Lakers

Well, so much for one of those famous LeBron James feel-out games.

Los Angeles finds itself up 1-0 in the Western Conference semifinals after a monstrous 30-point, 23-rebound performance by Anthony Davis and 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists from James on Tuesday night. The team as a whole shot just 24% from beyond the arc, yet managed to win rather comfortably with a strong showing in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth.

It marked the fourth win for the Lakers in five games against the Warriors this season, and Thursday’s Game 2 will mark the fifth time in six contests that they enter as underdogs. It’s not exactly a spot where the Lakers have thrived this year, going 15-21 straight up and 16-19-1 against the spread as road underdogs, but you never would have known with the way this team played at Golden State.

The Lakers now rank first among all playoff teams with a 103.9 Defensive Rating, and during the regular season posted a 104.0 Defensive Rating in four games versus Golden State. L.A. was also able to decisively win the battle on the glass during the regular season series, collecting 52.2% of available rebounds, and out-rebounded the Warriors 53-49 in Game 1. It seems the Lakers are out to prove that defense and rebounding can go a long way in the playoffs, and if Davis continues to play like this they will keep proving that on a game-to-game basis.

Golden State Warriors

It seems unfathomable that the Warriors shot 39.6% on 3s in this game yet still never managed to have a real shot to win until their flurry in the final minutes. It is a testament to the defense that the Lakers were able to play inside. They were outscored 54-28 in the paint and despite 23 boards from Kevon Looney, this team was overmatched on the interior.

The Warriors’ rebounding rate now sits at a poor 48.5% for the playoffs, which comes on the heels of a 14th-place finish in that department during the regular season. On top of that, offense has been the backbone of this team all season with top-10 ranks in efficiency and 3-point shooting yet they never mustered up more than 107 points per 100 possessions on L.A. during the regular season. They did manage to put up a decent offense performance thanks to their incredible shooting night (21 3-pointers was the most they’ve had in a game thus far), but it was the interior defense that ultimately let the Warriors down, on top of 10 blocked shots.

The question here becomes whether or not the Warriors have fired their best bullet at the Lakers. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson scored at least 25 points each and Jordan Poole chipped in 21 on 6-of-11 shooting from deep. Looney was a monster on the glass, and the team as a whole managed 30 assisted baskets, led by seven helpers from Draymond Green. Golden State got to the line just six times, so perhaps there’s some upward mobility there, but how does this team stop the Lakers? It’s going to need to start inside.

Lakers-Warriors Pick

I realize that some folks don’t like to look at the regular season series when handicapping the playoffs, and sometimes that can be wise with so many injuries altering the way these teams look during an 82-game season. With that being said, though, the Lakers clearly had an advantage inside, even outscoring Golden State 60-38 in the paint in the lone game they lost (by 14, I may add). L.A. has asserted its dominance on the glass over the Warriors all year long and has now won four of the five meetings.

The bottom line here is that if Davis is going to play like he did in Game 1 — and there’s certainly no evidence to suggest he’s slowing down — then the Warriors may have little to no chance of winning this series. When you consider they played their best offensive game of their five meetings against the Lakers this season and still never really seemed close to winning that game until the fourth quarter, things become scary. What if Curry has an off night in Game 2? What if the Warriors don’t shoot 40% on 3s again? What if the gap widens on the glass?

All of these things could easily happen in Game 2, which would make the Warriors winning by three possessions seem daunting. On the other side of the coin, the Lakers can still shoot so much better (they hit just six 3s in 25 tries) and they’ve got two of the most reliable players left standing in the playoffs in James and Davis.

I’m not calling another outright win for the Lakers, but this line seems a bit unfair to L.A. in my opinion. The Lakers should be able to maintain its advantage inside against a weak Warriors frontcourt and with that remain in this game for the duration. I’ll take the points again.