Los Angeles Lakers (15-9) at Cleveland Cavaliers (11-15), 8 pm Eastern Thursday, TNT
by Zman of Predictem.com
A pair of teams known, rightly or wrongly, as one-man gangs hook up when Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers visit LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers in the opener of a TNT/NBA double-header Thursday night.
Cleveland opened as a one-point home favorite on many NBA betting boards, with a total of 206. But Los Angeles has been bet into two-point road chalk in early wagering action. Also, the Lakers are listed at from -125 to -140 on various Vegas moneylines, with the Cavaliers getting from +105 to +120 as home underdogs.
These two teams are headed in different directions at the moment. LA has won six of its last seven games after winning at Chicago Tuesday night 103-91, while Cleveland has lost nine of its last 11 after falling at lowly New York 108-90 Wednesday.
So while the Lakers have pulled to within two games of the first-place Phoenix Suns in the Pacific Division, the Cavs sit in third place in the Central, 7 games back of the division-leading Detroit Pistons.
LA is a profitable 15-9 against the spread this season, 6-5 straight up and 7-4 vs. the numbers on the road. On the other side of the ledger, Cleveland is 10-16 ATS this season, 6-5 SU but just 3-8 vs. the numbers at home.
But the Cavaliers swept the two games vs. the Lakers last season, winning 99-90 at home and 114-108 in LA.
Los Angeles ranks 4th in the league with a +5.5 points-per-game average, 6th in rebounding at +2.8 per game, and is shooting 47% from the field, 36% from 3-point range and 77% from the free-throw line as a team this season.
Cleveland, meanwhile, ranks 24th at -4.7 ppg, 14th in rebounding at +.6 per game, and is shooting 44% from the floor, 36% from long range and 72% from the line.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rank the Lakers 5th at 96.0, the Cavs 21st at 87.2.
The o/u is 12-12 in Los Angeles games this season, which are averaging 209 points per, while the totals are 16-10 in Cleveland games, which are averaging 198 points.
Zman’s Pick: Take the Lakers at -2.