If Anthony Davis does indeed return for the L.A. Lakers this Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks will be the right choice for your NBA picks.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
American Airlines Center, Dallas
The wait is almost over. It’s been more than two months since Anthony Davis (strained right calf) last played for the Los Angeles Lakers, but Davis says he’ll make his return this Thursday when the Lakers visit the Dallas Mavericks – provided there aren’t any setbacks between now and tip-off. This is obviously big news for L.A. fans; at press time, the Lakers (35-23 SU, 28-30 ATS) are fifth in the Western Conference standings, where only the top six teams will advance directly to the playoffs. They’re also 7-9 SU and ATS since LeBron James (sprained right ankle) joined Davis on the injured list.
It just so happens that the Mavericks (31-26 SU, 26-21 ATS) are the seventh-place team in the West. They should be the classic sharp NBA pick, given that Davis will be playing his first game after a very long injury layoff; the betting public typically over-values star players in this situation. However, Dallas will host the Lakers on zero days of rest after beating the Detroit Pistons 127-117 as 10.5-point home faves, and while they’re healthy at the moment, there’s a good chance either Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis will get the night off – teams are supposed to rest their players at home, not away. A smaller bet on Dallas would be appropriate given the circumstances.
Big in Los Angeles
Speaking of circumstances, there aren’t any NBA odds for this matchup on our official list of preferred online sportsbooks as we go to press. The Mavs did open as 2.5-point favorites overseas, though, which seems like a reasonable line given the performance level of both teams. Fading the Lakers here is primarily about Davis and his injury layoff, with a dash of large-market public money thrown in for good measure.
Davis doesn’t just have to re-acquaint himself with his Lakers teammates. He has to build an entire new playing relationship with Andre Drummond, who was signed off the buyout market back on March 28. Drummond’s seven games in Purple and Gold haven’t been the greatest, at least at the offensive end. How will he and Davis mesh in the frontcourt? And how will Marc Gasol factor into the equation after sitting out the last two games?
The Mavericks have some capable defenders in Dwight Powell, Willie Cauley-Stein and Maxi Kleber, so it won’t be a picnic for whichever bigs L.A. decide to trot out Thursday night. Davis will presumably be on a minutes restriction, as well. With James believed to be about a week behind Davis in terms of recovery time, the focus for the Lakers in this matchup might be less on winning and more on making sure Davis gets his sea legs under him. Bet accordingly when the NBA lines come out, and enjoy the game.
NBA pick: Mavericks -4 (-110) at BetMGM