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The Daily Sweat: Lakers face Nets in Anthony Davis’ expected return to the floor

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Things have not been going well for the Los Angeles Lakers lately, but they are expected to have one of their stars back in the lineup on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets.

Anthony Davis, who has missed the team’s last 17 games, was upgraded to probable by the Lakers on Monday, signaling his likely return to action in Brooklyn. Davis sprained a ligament in his right knee on Dec. 17 and has been sidelined since.

Before the injury, Davis was averaging 23.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while shooting 52.1% from the field. The eight-time All-Star should provide an immediate boost for the Lakers, who have lost five of their last seven games and are currently eighth in the Western Conference standings at 23-24.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis warms up before a game against the Miami Heat on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Tuesday night’s game is the third in a six-game East Coast road trip for the Lakers. They opened it with a 116-105 win over the Orlando Magic, the worst team in the NBA. They then followed that up with a six-point loss to the Miami Heat. The Heat led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers managed to get it to four in the final minutes. In the end, they could not get over the hump and fell back below .500 on the year.

Perhaps that late-game surge and the addition of Davis will bring some positive vibes into Brooklyn for the Lakers, who are 3.5-point road favorites at BetMGM.

The Nets are 29-17 on the year and sitting in second place in the East. So why are they underdogs at home against a team with a much worse record?

Well, Kevin Durant is out with a knee injury and Kyrie Irving still can’t play in home games because of his refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19. That leaves James Harden to carry a much heavier load against a Lakers team searching for confidence.

The Lakers are just 11-21 against the spread as a favorite this year, including 3-6 ATS as a road favorite, but they could be worth a long look in this spot.

7 other NBA games on the card

Monday night’s NBA slate was pretty light with four games, but Tuesday night will double that with eight total.

The aforementioned Lakers-Nets game will get the most eyeballs, but there are a few others certainly worth monitoring. Two Western Conference matchups are especially intriguing.

First, the Golden State Warriors host the Dallas Mavericks, who have won eight of their last 10 games. The Warriors had a 2-5 stretch earlier this month, but have won three of four to open their current homestand. In this one, the Warriors are 3.5-point favorites at BetMGM despite Klay Thompson being listed as questionable due to knee soreness.

Elsewhere, the Minnesota Timberwolves are 3.5-point road favorites over the Portland Trail Blazers, who have won six of their last eight and are also 6-2 ATS over that span. The over is 17-6 this year when Minnesota is the road team, including a 5-1 mark when the Wolves are road favorites. On top of that, eight of Minnesota’s last 10 games have gone over the total.

What about college basketball?

In college basketball, the marquee matchup is in the Pac-12 where No. 7 UCLA hosts No. 3 Arizona. Arizona, which has a 16-1 record in its first season under Tommy Lloyd, is a 2.5-point road favorite at BetMGM.

The Wildcats are unbeaten in Pac-12 play and are 4-2 against the spread in conference play, though the average point spread in those six games was more than 16 points. UCLA will present Arizona’s toughest conference test yet.

The Bruins, a Final Four team last season, are 13-2 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play. UCLA is coming off two close road wins over Utah and Colorado and will have fans back in Pauley Pavilion for the first time since Dec. 1.

Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin against Stanford during an NCAA college basketball game in Stanford, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin dribbles against Stanford during a game in Stanford, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

In the Big Ten, No. 24 Illinois is set to host No. 10 Michigan State. Despite back-to-back losses last week, the Fighting Illini are 5.5-point favorites in this one. Illinois lost in double-overtime at home to No. 4 Purdue last Monday and then lost on the road to a mediocre Maryland team.

Against Maryland, Illinois was without star big man Kofi Cockburn, who was in concussion protocol. It’s unclear if Cockburn will be cleared for Tuesday’s game, though MSU coach Tom Izzo told reporters Monday he expects to see the All-American back on the court for the Illini. In their most-recent outing, MSU knocked off No. 8 Wisconsin on the road, 86-74. Can the Spartans pull off two Big Ten road upsets in a row?

Other games on the card include new No. 1 Auburn as a 14.5-point favorite at Missouri, No. 9 Duke as a 12.5-point home favorite vs. Clemson, No. 4 Baylor as a 13.5-point home favorite over Kansas State, No. 12 Kentucky as a 9.5-point favorite over Mississippi State, and Rutgers hosting Maryland as a 3.5-point favorite.