Warriors vs. Lakers: Fade Golden State in LA

Joe Dellera breaks down the Warriors vs. Lakers NBA matchup for Sunday, March 5 and shares his betting prediction.

Warriors vs. Lakers Odds

Warriors Odds -5
Lakers Odds +5
Over/Under 235
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Warriors and Lakers face off in a Sunday matinee in Los Angeles. With Steph Curry set to return, can the Warriors take care of business on the road, or will the Lakers spoil his return?

Let’s break down my favorite bet for this contest.

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Steph’s Return to the Warriors

Steph Curry is expected to make his return today after missing the team’s last 11 games with a leg injury. His return is significant – he has been the team’s best offensive player as their best shooter and primary ball handler. The Warriors are +8.7 points per 100 possessions when he is on the floor. His return is incredibly important for this team’s offense.

The Warriors have played very well out of the All-Star Break. They dropped the first game against the Lakers but then won five straight games. The biggest development has been the emergence of Klay Thompson. He has emerged as the team’s primary scoring threat with averages of 28.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists over his last five games.

He’s taken on a larger role as a facilitator to make the offense run effectively rather than his more traditional role as an off-ball, catch-and-shoot sharpshooter.

His decision-making has helped keep this Warriors team on track offensively without both Curry and Wiggins (who remains out for personal reasons). With Curry slated to return today, it will be interesting to see how that may impact Thompson’s rhythm. Thompson has scored 19.4 points per game in 32 games with Curry so there may be a steep decline in production.

The Warriors’ recent form has been strong; however, their competition has not been. The teams they have defeated, the Timberwolves, Pelicans, Clippers, Trail Blazers and Rockets are all below average out of the break. Outside of Minnesota, the other four teams are ranked 25th or lower in Net Rating over the last two weeks. I think the Warriors are a touch overvalued based on their competition and Curry’s return.

Will AD Step Up for the Lakers?

The Lakers have been surviving without LeBron James (foot) and D’Angelo Russell (ankle) as Anthony Davis (foot – Probable) is playing well along with Dennis Schroder and Austin Reaves filling in as the team’s best facilitators.

Davis has struggled in this matchup recently against the Warriors. He is scoring just 20.2 points with 10.4 rebounds per game in five games over the last two seasons. However, he did log a 16-rebound game against them on February 11th of this season without James. His rebound prop is set at 12.5 today; it’s a number I’m considering as he’s exceeded that in nine of 11 games this season without LeBron James, and the Warriors do not have an elite rebounding threat.

Over the last two weeks, the Lakers are 3-2 with a +3.4 Point Differential as their defense has been much improved, allowing opponents to score just 109.9 points per 100 possessions. Additionally, their competition has been much stronger over this stretch than Golden State’s. The Lakers have faced off against the Warriors (W), Mavericks (W), Grizzlies (L), Thunder (W) and Timberwolves (L) – although they are just 1-2 without LeBron, they have played these last three games closely in his absence.

Warriors-Lakers Pick

The Warriors have struggled outside of San Francisco as they are just 7-23 on the road and 9-21 ATS on the road this season. They are a significantly worse road team than home team – it is not a coincidence that this five-game winning streak has occurred at home.

Although the Lakers are fighting for a Play-In spot, these teams are not all that different on the full-season numbers. The Warriors have a +0.7 in Adjusted Net Rating while the Lakers are -0.8, per Dunksandthrees.

While Curry’s return is valuable, the Warriors’ road struggles are well documented – they cannot be considered the same team on the road. On the road, the Warriors have a Net Rating of -6.5 compared to +7.6 at home, per NBA Advanced Stats. They are simply overvalued on the road.

The Warriors may be in better health and better form at the moment, but their road struggles are well documented, and this spread is inflated due to their recent performance at home against struggling teams.