Two storied NBA franchises will meet in an ABC primetime showdown when the New York Knicks come across the country to meet the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Both teams are hovering around .500 while dealing with injury issues and inconsistent play, but both remain in the playoff chase.
The Knicks (24-28) have lost seven of their last nine games, and four of their last five, fading to last place in the Atlantic Division.
Los Angeles has faced issues on and off the court with injuries derailing the seasons of stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Meanwhile, guard Russell Westbrook continues to be hot and cold.
The Lakers were 25-27 heading into Thursday night’s game against their cross-town rival Los Angeles Clippers. They have been better at home (16-12) than on the road (9-15) this season.
The Lakers are currently ninth in the Western Conference.
What do the oddsmakers say?
DraftKings and FanDuel have the Lakers listed as point-and-a-half favorites. Both have the over/under set at 212.5. Early reports Saturday morning say that James is doubtful to play.
Despite only playing in 36 games this season, NBA megastar LeBron James is still in the top 10 odds for winning the Most Valuable Player Award this season.
As of Jan. 31, James was +5000 in the DraftKings sportsbook. James has won four NBA MVP awards in his career.
Checking the numbers
The Lakers rank near the bottom in the NBA playing against the spread. The Lakers are listed at 22-29-1 this season against or with the points. The Knicks are slightly better, at 25-27.
Los Angeles has been the listed favorite in four of its last 10 games. They have covered the spread in three of them. Los Angeles is 5-5 against the spread in their last 10.
The Lakers have also split their last 10 games in the over/under total with five going over and five going under.
Sportsbooks have made New York favorites in four of its last 10 contests. The Knicks are 2-2 straight up in those games and have covered twice. New York is 5-5 against the spread in its last 10 games.
When it comes to the over/under number, again, the Knicks are right down the middle with five games going under and five over.
The Knicks are coming off a 120-108 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. They are 11-13 on the road this year and are allowing 104.9 points a game while scoring 104.2.
The Knicks are coming off a playoff berth last season and started this season 5-1 but have struggled to play consistent offense. Julius Randle leads New York with 18.5 points a game and 9.9 rebounds but has not delivered in key moments.
The Lakers show
No one knows how good the Lakers might be just yet, and the NBA season is past the halfway point. James has been in and out of the lineup but up to his usual tricks when he does play, averaging 29.1 points a game.
Davis just returned to the team after an injury. He’s scored 23.4 points a game, but has missed 20 games already this season.
The offense has had to be carried by Russell Westbrook and he’s been up and down. The best word to describe LA might be “streaky.” Los Angeles has had three three-game losing streaks and a five-game run of L’s.
A look back at the last five meetings
These two marquee NBA franchises have a long history and 19 combined NBA titles (the Lakers have 17). Los Angeles leads the all-time series, 170-124.
However, it must be noted that both of the Knicks’ NBA titles came when they beat the Lakers in the 1970 and 1973 NBA Finals.
Knicks 106, Lakers 100
LeBron James was suspended and Davis was sick in the team’s first meeting this season. The Knicks built a 25-point lead and coasted, with Evan Fournier scoring 26 points.
Lakers 101, Knicks 99, OT
Again, James was out for this one. The star was Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker, who made a late three-pointer to lift Los Angeles to a dramatic win.
Knicks 111, Lakers 96
Randle went off for 34 points and 10 rebounds at Madison Square Garden and the Knicks took advantage of a Laker team without James and Davis, who were both hurt.
Lakers 100, Knicks 92
It was tied at 48 at the half, but Davis surged in the second half for the eventual NBA champs that season. He had 28 with James adding 19.
Lakers 117, Knicks 87
This Laker win tied the biggest margin of victory the team would have in 2019-2020. James put in 31 points. The game was marked by a flagrant foul by Knicks forward Bobby Portis on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The play (advise on how to bet)
Even without James, the Lakers look like a good bet here to cover the spread. Los Angeles will still have the best player on the floor in Anthony Davis and will be looking to rebound over a close loss to the Clippers.
Also, the Knicks are just really struggling right now. If the Lakers can get up on them early, it could be a blowout.