How much does the NBA preseason matter? That question may be answered in regards to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night as following an 0-6 exhibition schedule, the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors in the second game of the opening-night doubleheader and also Russell Westbrook's LA debut (click for model picks). Out for the Warriors are Klay Thompson and James Wiseman, while out for Los Angeles are Wayne Ellington, Talen Horton-Tucker and Trevor Ariza. Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn both should play through injuries. The Lakers are -3.5 at Caesars Sportsbook. Two Dubs starters, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green, apparently won't go heavy minutes.
The Lakers' 0-6 mark in the preseason was the worst of any club – Washington and Portland were 0-4. L.A. lost its games by an average of 15.0 points. It should be noted, though, that LeBron James played in only three of the games and for a total of 73 minutes – in those minutes, the Lakers were plus-17.
There's no question that there could be some early growing pains for the Lakers with so many new players: Westbrook, Ellington, Ariza, Monk, Nunn, Kent Bazemore, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. Ellington was projected to start at shooting guard but is out with a left hamstring injury. Arizona had surgery early this month on his ankle. Monk (right groin strain) and Nunn (right ankle sprain) returned to practice on Sunday, so they should be ready.
Think LeBron might be motivated Tuesday night? Of course, he lost in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in his career back in late May/early June to the Suns. Los Angeles reached the playoffs by beating the visiting Warriors 103-100 in the play-in game on May 19 at Staples Center. James made a long, go-ahead 3-pointer with 58.2 seconds remaining.
LeBron is set at Over/Under 23.5 points tonight and Westbrook is +270 to have a triple-double – he averaged yet another full-season one last season.
Reigning NBA scoring champion Steph Curry had 37 points in that play-in game loss – he's +500 at Caesars to repeat at scoring king behind Washington's Bradley Beal (+300) and Dallas' Luka Doncic (+450). The Dubs open without Thompson, who may not debut until early 2022 off his torn Achilles, and Wiseman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft. He averaged 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game as a rookie but suffered torn meniscus in mid-April and is a few weeks away.
Rookie Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 7 overall pick this year, is out with a strained patella tendon in his right knee. He probably wasn't going to play much anyways. The Warriors were an NBA-best 5-0 in the preseason. Coach Steve Kerr said today that Wiggins and Green will be on a minutes restriction tonight because both missed part of the preseason.
Golden State has a 33-42 (.440) record in season openers, including a 14-19 (.424) road record. The Dubs are 2-7 ATS in their past nine as road dogs overall. This writer is on LA.
Looking for the best picks against the spread, sharp action on the total, and props you can take to the window? Join Jonathan Coachman on the Early Edge as he speaks with SportsLine's top handicappers to preview every day's biggest games. We promise to keep it short, sweet and to put some green in your pocket. Early Edge is under 10 minutes and in your feed every single day by 11 AM ET. Download right here or wherever you get your podcasts.