The second of the two games on the opening night of the NBA’s 2021-22 calendar will pit familiar foes against one another. The Golden State Warriors – who have emerged as a trendy pick to once again challenge for another NBA title – will head to SoCal to take on the new-look Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
These teams met a few times during the preseason, but the last time we saw them in an actual game was last May when they squared off in the NBA’s play-in tourney. The Lakers battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit to eke out a 103-100 win on their home floor. LA would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs to Phoenix, while the Warriors ultimately failed to crack the postseason field.
As is usually the case, both teams are facing lofty aspirations entering the new season. The Warriors will finally get Klay Thompson back after he missed each of the last two seasons due to two different injuries. The Lakers, meanwhile, will attempt to win another title with the oldest roster in the history of the league. BetOnline has the Lakers as five-point favorites at home on Tuesday night in a game with a 230.5 over/under.
Warriors vs. Lakers Betting Odds
Golden State Warriors
Over 230.5 points (-110)
Los Angeles Lakers
Under 230.5 points (-110)
The Warriors’ dynasty is in the rearview mirror, but most of the faces from the franchise’s glory days are still here. Steve Kerr is still patrolling the sidelines, while Stephen Curry is fresh off of one of the best seasons of his esteemed career. Draymond Green enjoyed a resurgent 2020-21 season, while Thompson should return at some point early in the campaign. Golden State even decided to bring veteran Andre Iguodala back as a free agent after he spent last season in Miami.
Whether these pieces are still a championship recipe remains to be seen. There’s no telling how Thompson will fare after missing two years with lower-body injuries. Achilles injuries tend to be particularly harmful to basketball players later in their careers, but Thompson’s style of play should age well. The Warriors have never leaned on Thompson to do much playmaking or scoring off-the-dribble. As long as he can continue to space the floor around Curry, he’ll be fine.
Curry averaged a career-high 32 points per game last year, but we can expect that scoring output to come down now that Thompson is back. Golden State’s offense essentially died whenever Steph wasn’t on the floor. The Warriors had a net rating of plus-4.6 with Curry on the floor last season. That number plummeted to minus-5.6 with Steph on the bench. If that trend continues again this season, Golden State will finish a lot closer to the bottom of the playoff picture than the top once again.
The Dubs won’t be quite as reliant on Curry this season, but the two-time league MVP is obviously still the crux of Kerr’s offense. As long as he’s healthy and flinging up his typical array of shots from anywhere inside the half-court line, Golden State should fare well offensively. Thompson’s return should help, but the team has a few other reinforcements, too. Jordan Poole appears primed for a breakout on the heels of a monster preseason, while rookie Moses Moody should add a scoring presence if he’s able to crack the rotation.
After an unexpected first-round playoff exit, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka decided to push all of his chips to the middle of the table. The Lakers made a blockbuster deal sending Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, and draft considerations to Washington in exchange for Russell Westbrook. The Lakers will be Westbrook’s fourth different team in the last four years, but Pelinka is banking on sheer talent ultimately winning out.
He wasn’t done, either. The Lakers re-signed a pair of familiar faces in Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo. Carmelo Anthony will team up with LeBron James for the first time this season. DeAndre Jordan, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore, Trevor Ariza, and Wayne Ellington are among the other new faces set to don the famous purple and gold this season.
Whether Westbrook and James will coexist offensively is the main question mark with regard to the new-look Lakers. Both former league MVPs have reputations for being ball-dominant. Westbrook isn’t a good enough shooter to give the Lakers much as a floor-spacer, while James it at his best when making plays for his teammates. That makes for an awkward fit, and we haven’t even gotten to Anthony Davis yet.
When he’s at his best, Westbrook is a matchup nightmare capable of bullying smaller guards and getting easy baskets. When he’s at his worst, Westbrook is a midrange bricklayer that wastes countless possessions chasing his own stats. Westbrook’s ability to shoulder a big offensive workload should help the Lakers keep James fresh for the playoffs, but it’s still hard to imagine how both players will fare whenever they have to share the floor in big moments.
Frankly, it’s easy to see how the Lakers might get off to a slow start. The team is 0-5 so far in the preseason, and the new “big three” didn’t debut in a game together until Tuesday night. There will be some growing pains for this team, but the championship upside is obvious. If Frank Vogel is ultimately able to figure out how to get the best out of his team’s unique nucleus, Los Angeles is going to be a very tough out come playoff time.
Warriors vs. Lakers NBA Pick
Age is going to be a major issue for the Lakers this season, but that shouldn’t be much of a concern on opening night. LA’s aging roster will be as fresh as they’ll be all year in the first game of the season. This will also be the Lakers’ first regular-season home game in front of fans since March of 2020, so LeBron and co. should be ready for this one.
Both teams are known for their offensive exploits, but these were also two of the best defensive teams in basketball last year. The Lakers finished first in defensive rating, yielding just 104.8 points per 100 possessions. Whether they can maintain that level of defense with so many new players in the fold remains to be seen. The Warriors, however, quietly finished fifth in the same category, which was no small feat for a team that didn’t even qualify for the playoffs.
The over/under of 230.5 points looks a little lofty. These teams combined for just 203 points the last time they met, and they combined for at least 231 points just once in four total meetings a season ago. These were also two of the most profitable “under” bets in the Association a season ago. The Lakers hit the under in a whopping 60.5 percent of their games, which was the best mark in the league. The Warriors ranked third, hitting the under 56.2 percent of the time.
Bank on a lower-scoring affair when the two teams meet again in Downtown LA on Tuesday. Take the under on 230.5 combined points.
Point spread: Warriors +5 (-110), Lakers -5 (-110)
Over/Under: Over 230.5 (-110), Under 230.5 (-110)
Prediction: Under 230.5 (-110)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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