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SO/UP Picks and Betting Analysis for Lakers-Knicks, Nuggets-Trail Blazers

The Lakers are the worst team in the NBA Against The Spread (ATS). Can they cover on the road without LeBron James?
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There’s a huge middle class of teams with eight or nine wins in the NBA. They’re not focused on the lottery odds, but the Larry O’Brien Trophy looks out of reach at the present moment. Four of those teams—the Lakers, Knicks, Nuggets and Trail Blazers—are the focus for Tuesday’s SO/UP bets.

I’m rejoined by my colleague and SI Betting editor Dave Scipione who’s this week’s guest picker. Here’s what you need to know about each game as well as our picks.

Season record: 25-23

Guest pickers: 15-27

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Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook on the court during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center.

Los Angeles Lakers (9-9) vs. New York Knicks (9-8)

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Spread: Lakers +3.5 (-110) | Knicks -3.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Lakers (+130) | Knicks (-154)
Total: Under 214.5 (-110) | Over 214.5 (-110)
Injuries: Lakers F Anthony Davis—Day-to-day; Lakers F LeBron James—Suspended; Knicks G Derrick Rose—Day-to-day; Knicks C Mitchell Robinson—Out

Los Angeles has performed poorly all season long, but their struggles on the road have been especially apparent. The team is 2-4 outside of the soon-to-be-renamed Staples Center. The Lakers ended a three-game skid Sunday in Detroit. In the process, they lost LeBron James who was suspended one game for his role in a skirmish with Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart.

Playing without James won’t help matters against New York—L.A. is 5-3 in games with James and 4-6 without him. Anthony Davis continues to be a nightly double-double. It’s the rest of the cast of contributors—Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the newly healthy Talen Horton-Tucker—who have been erratic. The Lakers have the NBA’s fifth-best scoring offense (109.9 PPG) and entirely negate their dominance on that side of the court with the No. 28 scoring defense (113.4 PPG).

November has not been kind to the Knicks. New York entered the month 5-1 and is 4-7 since the calendar turned. The team last played Sunday night in Chicago, a loss to the conference-leading Bulls. N.Y. stills runs through Julius Randle, though he’s taken a step back from his breakout season.

The Knicks have been one of the healthier teams in basketball this season. Randle, R.J. Barrett and Evan Fournier have started every game this season. New York is middle of the pack on both sides of the ball, where it made its playoff push on stout defense last year. N.Y. ranks 16th in scoring (107.3 PPG) and 17th in defense (106.8 PPG).

Spread pick: Knicks -3.5

The Lakers (6-12) are the worst team Against the Spread (ATS) in the NBA. The Knicks are not significantly better (7-10), though they have the advantage of availability and get to play at home. James always says he loves playing at Madison Square Garden and he’ll be held out of doing so this time around.

Over/Under pick: Under 214.5

Los Angeles, of course, is a much better team with James on the court. That shows itself in the team’s numbers with and without him—the Lakers score 112 PPG with James and 108.2 without him. New York has had trouble scoring lately as well. Three times in their last five games the Knicks have failed to score 100 points. This game could be ugly.

Prop: Anthony Davis Over 24.5 Points

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This one is rather simple. Center Mitchell Robinson is out for New York, leaving an opening in the paint for Davis to abuse. And with James out, the scoring responsibilities fall entirely on Davis, who has scored 30 or more in each of his last two outings.

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Guest Picker Dave Scipione's Take:

Spread pick: Lakers +3.5

Man, this is tough without LeBron—but I'm going with the Lakers. To be honest, with a spread at +3.5, I'm more inclined to just go with Los Angeles to win straight-up (SU). Why? Well, my reasoning is the Lakers still have enough star power to turn it on at Madison Square Garden. I know they look awful to start the season, but I feel like this will be a comfortable win for them, and I'm not going to put faith in the Knicks yet.

Over/Under pick: Over 214.5

I think the Lakers will win this one, but they still can't defend at all. I like New York to tally at least 100 points and I feel like the Lakers will do their part to cement a comfortable win. If you think the Lakers are going to win this game, it's going to hit the over—they are not going to win by playing great defense.

Prop: RJ Barrett Over 2.5 Assists

Now, I don't think the Lakers are going to play amazing defense, but I do think their wing defenders will stifle the Knicks' younger players. I can see Barrett being forced to pass out of a collapsing defense, and I like him to pick up at least three or more dimes this game. I don't think either team will pull away with a big lead until late in the fourth quarter, so I expect Barrett to get a good amount of minutes. Hopefully if—and when—he distributes the rock, his teammates can hit their shots.

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

Denver Nuggets (9-8) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (9-8)

Time: 10 p.m. ET, TNT
Spread: Nuggets +6.5 (-110) | Trail Blazers -6.5 (-110)
Moneyline: DEN (+205) | POR (-250)
Total: Under 213.5 (-110) | Over 213.5 (-110)
Injuries: Nuggets F Michael Porter Jr.—Out; Nuggets C Nikola Jokić—Day-to-day; Nuggets G Bones Hyland—Out

Denver is on a four-game losing streak and injuries continue to pile up. Michael Porter Jr. has a nerve issue in his back that could knock him out for the season and Jamaal Murray remains sidelined after tearing his ACL last spring. Now, reigning MVP Nikola Jokić is dealing with a wrist injury. He missed Sunday’s 29-point loss to the Suns.

Denver has rarely won outside of Colorado, going 2-5 on the road this season. The Nuggets have the NBA’s No. 24 offense (102.6 PPG) and No. 2 defense (101.6 PPG). Both suffer without Jokić on the court, as seen in Sunday’s loss.

The Nuggets won 124-95 when these teams met earlier in the season in Denver. Damian Lillard was absent for that game.

Portland has won its last three games—all at home—against quality Eastern Conference opponents, including the Bulls. Lillard is beginning to rebound from a slow start to the season. He had his best scoring game against the 76ers on Saturday, scoring 39 points in 37 minutes.

The Trail Blazers have gone as Lillard has, and they’re playing much better basketball as November wears on. With help from C.J. McCollum and Norman Powell, Portland has the No. 6 scoring offense in basketball (109.9 PPG) and a rather porous defense, ranked 21st (109.2 PPG).

Spread pick: Trail Blazers -6.5

I don’t think the Nuggets end their losing streak at the Moda Center, where the Trail Blazers are 8-1 this season. These teams have identical ATS records (7-10), so I’ll go with the healthier team at home: Portland.

Over/Under pick: Over 213.5

Denver’s typically strong defense has allowed opponents more than 100 points in four straight games—all losses. Meanwhile, Portland has put up 112 or more points in three consecutive games—all victories. Trail Blazers games have gone over eight times this season in 17 games. That’s the ninth-highest rate in the NBA. I can see Portland cracking 110, winning by double-digits and this game going over.

Prop: Damian Lillard Over 24.5 Points

Lillard has gone over this number in five of his last 10 games. Compare that to his first six games, where he went over 24.5 points once and just barely did so by scoring 25. He’s heading in the right direction offensively and these teams have history. Denver sent Portland home in the postseason in the summer. Lillard missed the first game between these two teams and he’ll surely get his points in this meeting.

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Guest Picker Dave Scipione's Take:

Spread pick: Trail Blazers -6.5

I don't like betting on either of these teams, but I think Portland will take care of business at home on Tuesday. The spread isn't too big to be afraid of, and I think the Blazers' big men will be up to the task of gobbling up the rebounds from all of the Nuggets' missed shots. Both teams need this win, but I'll take a healthier Blazers team to cover all day at home.

Over/Under pick: Under 213.5

It just feels like a trap total when you look at it. I want to bet the over, but I'm only doing that with healthy teams and players that can put up 20+ points. I think Portland has enough firepower, but in games where it's lopsided like this, I always fear a blowout by third quarter. If that happens, no way will it reach the over. I'll go with under 213.5, and hope for bricks.

Prop: Damian Lillard Triple-Double

The odds for this are all over the place, but you're looking at nearly +5000 if Lillard can pull off a triple-double at home. Why I like this bet? The payout, obviously. Another big reason is that it's not that crazy for a player like Lillard to take advantage of a depleted Nuggets team by padding his stats. If he's sitting with a good amount of assists and rebounds after the first quarter, he could be tempted to go for the triple-double. We all know he's good for his points here. The real question is will he be able to snag boards? At home, with hefty odds, it's a fun one to roll the dice on.

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