Maybe the return of LeBron James can save the Los Angeles Lakers from the play-in tournament. James is expected back in the lineup on Tuesday when LA hosts the New York Knicks. The Lakers got a much-needed win last time out stopping a two-game slide with a payout win over Phoenix and could use as much help as they can get from LeBron. LA is just one game behind Portland for the No. 6 seed. The Knickerbockers are also in a fight for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. They currently hold the No. 4 seed but sit just a game up on Miami and Atanta.
This NBA matchup takes place on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 and will air live on TNT with tip off at 10 p.m. ET from Staples Center.
Knicks vs Lakers Odds
Spread: New York Knicks +5.5 | LA Lakers -5.5
Total: (Check Back Later)
Season To Date
After several years of crappy play that had the Knicks the laughingstock of the NBA, fortunes have changed in the Big Apple. That’s good for the franchise and good for the league. They beat the Clippers on Sunday for their 38th win, the most in a single season since going 54-28 in the 2012-13 campaign. And while they haven’t officially clinched a playoff berth, it’s just a matter of time until that seven-year drought ends.
No longer a surprise, the Knicks are hoping to contend for the East title. They won nine games in a row and 12 of 13 to jump into the fourth seed and were huge at the betting window going 12-1 ATS in that stretch. They rebounded from double-digit losses at Denver and Phoenix by beating the Clips last time out putting them at 3-2 SU and ATS through the first five games of their six-game road trip. The Knicks have been the best bet in the NBA all season going 43-24-1 ATS.
It’s a crucial last week of the regular season for the Lakers. They are expected to have James back in the lineup Tuesday night after he missed the last few games. When he originally returned from an ankle injury he was far from his best in two losses. Getting some court time ahead of the postseason will only improve LA’s chances of repeating. It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Lakers.
They went 21-7 through mid-February then Anthony Davis was hurt and James hit the shelf a few weeks later. The Lakers were 16-23 since Valentine’s Day until ending a two-game losing streak with a victory over the Suns on Sunday. They still aren’t at full strength with Dennis Schroeder out of the lineup, but they are getting closer just in time for a playoff run.
New York Knicks
Julius Randle never played like this while he was with the Lakers. It took some time for the former lottery pick to blossom and he’s a legitimate MVP candidate leading the Knicks to what will be their first playoff appearance since 2013. Randle leads the team with 23.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. But the Knicks are much more than just Randle. Derrick Rose scored 25 points and Reggie Bullock added 24 in Sunday’s win over the Clippers.
Randle finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds and was a big factor in the win despite his below average point total. “Now we feel like we can beat anybody. We have confidence as a team. Anybody can step up, that’s the beauty of our team,” Randle said.
Los Angeles Lakers
How important is it for the Lakers to get their injured stars some run time before the playoffs? Well, Davis struggled in his first few games back playing limited minutes while trying to get his game legs back. AD averaged 16.5 points in six games after his return with the Lakers going 1-5 SU and 0-5-1 ATS. He showed signs of returning the dominant role in a loss to Portland scoring 36 points with 12 boards. Everything came together on Sunday with Davis scoring 42 points in the win over Phoenix.
Without their two leading scorers out for an extended period the offense struggled. The UNDER is 41-26-1 on the season. The Lakers are hoping that all changes against the NBA’s best defense. They were held under 100 last month in a 111-96 loss at MSG where they failed to cover the 1-point spread. Without AD and James the total closed at 206 and we can expect that number to be on the low side again.
Knicks vs Lakers Predictions
Our picks: Los Angeles Lakers -5.5 / OVER
The Lakers are getting players back in time for the postseason and James will do everything he can to avoid the play-in since he’s not a fan of the tournament. He also gives them a scorer they’ve missed which is why I’m leaning toward the OVER in this contest. Two of the better defensive clubs will keep that number low allowing the teams to easily reach it. And the defending champs need to start clicking ahead of the postseason, just like they did against Phoenix.