Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 12/25/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Friday, Dec 24, 2021
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Venue: Arena, Los Angeles, CA
Where to watch: ABC

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Nets -1.5
BetMGM: Lakers -1.5
Caesars: Nets -1

Season record
Nets: 21-9 (1st place, Eastern Conference)
Lakers: 16-17 (6th place, Western Conference)

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Nets - Lakers preview and analysis

Recent form
Nets: lost 100-93 vs. Magic on Dec. 18
Lakers: lost four straight; lost 138-110 vs. Spurs on Thursday

Merry Christmas to Brooklyn Nets fans. You get one of your big names back for the Christmas game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

James Harden has been cleared from COVID protocol and he will be available for the Nets in what was supposed to be a battle of star power. Kevin Durant remains in COVID protocol; Kyrie Irving is nowhere near ready to step on the court; Anthony Davis will be out for the Lakers, while LeBron James is starting to show his age.

Clearly, anyone who is healthy and able to play is considered a good sign, no matter what. At least they're not postponed.

But the Nets have had to deal with an outbreak with so many key names outside of Durant not available. Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Bruce Brown are also in protocol and are likely not to play on Saturday.

The Nets haven't played since Dec. 18, a 100-93 loss at home to the Orlando Magic. They were supposed to play the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, but Brooklyn's COVID outbreak prevented them from having a minimum eight players available for the roster. 

Harden's return will help with Durant going out. Harden hasn't had the shooting season he had in Houston, but he's still averaging near a triple-double at 21 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds a game. With Durant out, he'll see the ball going his way a lot more. That could either mean Harden is turning into his typical human flamethrower, or he's missing every shot he takes. Either way, we're in for a treat.

This will also be the very first game under what is formerly known as Staples Center. The Lakers' home for over two decades will be named Arena on Saturday. In the final game under the iconic name, the Lakers got destroyed by 28 points by the San Antonio Spurs.

It's not often LeBron can go for 36 points and his team gets run out of the gym. The Spurs got a career-high 30 points from Keita Bates-Diop by making all 11 of his shots and they made 48 percent of their shots. The Lakers got 36 from LeBron and 30 from Russell Westbrook, but the Lakers went only 17 of 30 from the free-throw line.

"We have no chemistry with any lineup from the simple fact that we haven't logged any minutes," James said after the Lakers lost their fourth straight game. "All of our defensive guys are in health and safety protocols. ... We don't need a full roster. We just need some of our guys back."


The Nets open up as 1-point favorites and I wonder how much that line will move in Brooklyn's favor now that Harden is back. Harden needs a big game for himself, as well as his team. Neither team has been good against the spread as of late -- Nets 3-2 in last five, Lakers 1-4 in last five -- but I like the Nets to rally around their one healthy superstar against a banged-up Lakers team. Nets by 5

Betting trends

The Nets are 15-5 ATS in their last 20 against Pacific Division opponents.

The Lakers are 6-17 ATS in their last 23 against Atlantic Division opponents.

Projected starting lineup

PG: James Harden
SG: Patty Mills
DeAndre’ Bembry
Paul Millsap
Nic Claxton

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Wayne Ellington
Talen Horton-Tucker
LeBron James
Dwight Howard

Key injuries

Nets: Kevin Durant (COVID, out), Kyrie Irving (COVID, out), Blake Griffin (knee, day-to-day), Bruce Brown (COVID, out), Joe Harris (ankle, out)

Lakers: Anthony Davis (knee, out), Kendrick Nunn (COVID, out), Kent Bazemore (COVID, out), Avery Bradley (COVID, out), Austin Reaves (COVID, out), Malik Monk (COVID, out), Trevor Ariza (COVID, out)

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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