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Back the underdog Lakers in Game 2 Thursday night vs. the Warriors

Grab the points with the Lakers, whose physical play will rattle the defending champs again Thursday

LeBron James had 22 points and 11 rebounds in helping the Los Angeles Lakers to a 117-112 upset victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of a Western Conference playoff series Tuesday. James and the Lakers are an underdog again in Thursday’s Game 2. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LeBron James had 22 points and 11 rebounds in helping the Los Angeles Lakers to a 117-112 upset victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of a Western Conference playoff series Tuesday. James and the Lakers are an underdog again in Thursday’s Game 2. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Read moreEzra Shaw / Getty Images

A week ago at this time, the Golden State Warriors were riding a streak in which they had won 13 of 14 home playoff games since the start of the 2021-22 postseason.

That included a pair of wins over the Sacramento Kings in this year’s first round.

Now the defending champions are staring at the prospect of their first three-game playoff home losing skid since dropping Games 3, 4 and 6 to the Toronto Raptors in the 2018-19 NBA Finals.

To avoid matching that lowlight, Golden State will have to bounce back from Tuesday’s Game 1 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

It’s a bounce back that’s expected, as the champs will hit their court for Thursday’s Game 2 as a bigger favorite than they were in Game 1.

But just because the odds say the Warriors should prevail in what essentially is a must-win game doesn’t mean they will. And it certainly doesn’t mean they will cover what appears to be an inflated point spread.

Odds updated as of 2 p.m. ET on May 4.

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Lakers vs. Warriors Prediction

  1. Lakers +7 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

  2. Note: Stick with this bet down to Lakers +6

Lakers vs. Warriors Prediction: Analysis

Bettors have made a fortune in these playoffs applying the good-old zigzag wagering theory after a home team drops the opener of a series.

The latest instance was Wednesday night, when the Boston Celtics rebounded from a Game 1 upset loss to the Philadelphia 76ers with a 34-point beatdown in Game 2.

With that, home teams improved to 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS immediately following a series-opening defeat. Average victory margin: 16.2 points, with five wins by double digits.

» READ MORE: Lakers vs. Warriors prediction: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole highlight best player props to bet for Game 2

The Lakers were on the wrong end of one of those blowout losses in the first round. After scoring a 128-112 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies as a five-point road underdog in Game 1, Los Angeles fell 103-93 as a one-point favorite in Game 2.

Making that 10-point loss even worse? Ja Morant, Memphis’ best player, sat out with a finger injury.

Now, you may recall we chose not to go the zigzag route Wednesday in the 76ers-Celtics series. That clearly was a bad call.

You would think such an outcome, which further cemented the strong home team/Game 2 bounce-back trend we’ve seen in these playoffs, would lead us to jump off the Lakers — who we backed in Game 1 — and jump on Golden State..

And that very well might have happened … had the opener of this series not gone down the way it did.

A quick recap of Tuesday’s contest:

  1. Golden State had three players top 20 points — Steph Curry (27), Klay Thompson (25) and Jordan Poole (21).

  2. Those three players accounted for 18 of the team’s 21 made 3-pointers. By comparison, the Lakers went 6-for-25 from long distance, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis combining to go 1-for-10.

  3. Warriors center Kevon Looney pulled down 23 rebounds, including a game-best seven offensive boards. He also chipped in 10 points.

  4. And Golden State erased a 14-point deficit with a 14-0 scoring spurt in a 4-minute, 20-second span late in the fourth quarter.

Despite all that, the Lakers still pulled out a 117-112 victory as a 4.5-point underdog.

How did L.A. do it? One word: Physicality.

Time and again, the Lakers took the ball to the basket on offense and shut down the paint on defense.

The result was a massive foul-shooting edge for Los Angeles, which took 29 free throws (making 25) while the Warriors took just six (making five). And while the Warriors were phenomenal from distance, going 21-for-53, they made just 22 of 53 shots from inside the arc (41.5%).

» READ MORE: Panthers vs. Maple Leafs prediction: Bet on Toronto to post blowout win

Will the free-throw disparity even out in Game 2, and perhaps even favor the Warriors? Probably. But the Lakers aren’t about to alter a playing style that has given Golden State fits for nearly three months.

Since the Warriors beat L.A. 123-109 at home on the opening night of this season, Los Angeles has won and covered four straight.

Curry didn’t play in two of those games, but James also missed two for the Lakers.

With and without those superstars on the court, L.A. held Golden State’s lethal offense to an average of just 107.8 points per game. That’s more than 11 points below the Warriors’ regular season average of 118.9.

Golden State’s shooting percentage in its four straight losses to the Lakers.: 43.6%.

Golden State’s overall shooting percentage in the regular season: 47.9%.

Golden State’s shooting percentage against Sacramento in the first round: 45.3%.

It’s all right there in the raw numbers — the Warriors simply don’t match up well against a Lakers roster that was completely overhauled around the All-Star break.

Does that mean Golden State won’t display its tremendous heart in a high-pressure contest, feed off the energy of its rabid fans and will its way to a Game 2 victory? Nope, doesn’t mean that at all.

The Warriors, in fact, probably will find a way to even this series. But by a margin big enough to cover the spread? We’re not buying that one.

So grab the generous points in another competitive contest that likely will be decided by four points or less — either way.

Lakers vs. Warriors Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook):

  1. Point spread: Lakers (+7) @ Warriors (-7)

  2. Moneyline: Lakers (+228) @ Warriors (-285)

  3. Total: 227 points

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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