NBA Game Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks

Jan 31, 2023

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Game: Los Angeles Lakers @ New York Knicks

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Odds: Lakers +2.5, Knicks -2.5

Total: 235.5

After a stop at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last night, the Los Angeles Lakers (23-28, 24-25-2 ATS) face the New York Knicks (27-24, 26-23-2) at Madison Square Garden tonight to wrap up their tour through the Empire State.

The Nets defeated the Lakers 121-104 last night, handing them their second straight loss. Brooklyn was led by Kyrie Irving’s 26 points, while an undermanned Los Angeles team was led by Thomas Bryant (18 points) and Russell Westbrook (17 points, 10 assists).

Given that both LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (foot) are labeled as questionable, Los Angeles may still be without its full starting lineup tonight. Neither Davis nor James played last night. This season, the pair has averaged 57 points a game together, accounting for almost half of the team’s scoring output. The Lakers are hopeful both will be on the floor tonight.

The Knicks’ most recent game was also against the Nets. They suffered a 122-115 loss to Brooklyn on Saturday. While Jalen Brunson (26 points), RJ Barrett (24 points), and Julius Randle (19 points, 10 rebounds) all had strong games for New York in the loss, it was Irving’s 32 points that led the Nets to victory.

For the Knicks, in particular, Brunson has made significant strides this month, leading New York with a team-high 28.1 points per game, which is over six points more than his season average. Similar to the Lakers, the Knicks have relied heavily on a small group of players to generate the majority of their offense in January. Brunson, Randle, and Barrett account for more than two-thirds of the team’s scoring with a combined 77 points per game.

If the Lakers are to have any hope of competing against the Knicks, they’ll probably need at least one of James and Davis back in the lineup tonight. Despite a persistent ankle injury, James has been a monster when on the court, averaging 34.3 points per game this month, including four games with 40 or more points. James’ comeback alone would very likely tip the game in the Lakers’ favor, even if he isn’t fully healthy.

The Knicks have lost six of their last eight games after cruising through the first two weeks of the new year. Since their top three have been delivering consistently, offense hasn’t really been a problem, so they’ll aim to strengthen their defense. Over the last seven games, New York has allowed 120.7 points per game. That simply isn’t not good enough to secure many victories and it’s uncharacteristic of a Tom Thibodeau-coached Knicks team.

New York will probably be able to hinder the Lakers’ offense if James and Davis are still absent. The Knicks opened as a 1.5-point favorite. In the last six games between the two teams, Los Angeles is 4-2; however, New York has won in four of the previous five matchups at Madison Square Garden. The OVER is 8-4 in the previous 12 encounters and the total has gone Over in four of the Knicks’ last five games.

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