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The Los Angeles Lakers get their star back tonight in Anthony Davis as they square off on TNT with the Brooklyn Nets. NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his predictions and picks for Tuesday night's marquee matchup.
ANALYSIS

Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction: Should You Trust the Lakers With the Return of Anthony Davis?

Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

When: Tuesday, January 25, 7:30 pm ET

Where to Watch: TNT

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Nets vs. Lakers Line Movement

Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction

Amazing how much things can change over the course of a season.

If you'd scoured the schedule for headline matchups among the 1260 games played throughout the year, Lakers at Nets would have come up pretty high on the list. Sure enough, all eyes will be in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, just not for the reasons we thought.

Anthony Davis, after missing the last 17 games with an MCL sprain, has been listed as probable for the matchup. The Lakers have gone just 7-10 during his recent absence, but are 10-10 in the 20 games he's missed this season. Given that their overall record is one game under .500, it's fair to assume that the return of AD will not be the panacea that rescues this dreadful Lakers season.

And perhaps he won't, but it's clear that without him, they really have no shot. For one, the Lakers have just four road wins on the season in games Davis has sat out, and they have come against the Rockets, Thunder, Magic, and Pacers. They also have a negative net rating without Davis on the court this year despite the fact that they've played an easy, home-heavy schedule without him.

On the flip side, their net rating with Davis on the court is two points per 100 possessions worse than when he's played. This is due at least in part to the fact that AD hasn't been his usual self this season. He's gone from a moderate threat behind the arc to a non-threat, shooting just under 18 percent from deep. Given the presence of Russell Westbrook - another player who opponents are all too willing to let fire away from deep - this is a major issue.

Not that there isn't a solution. It's a tiny sample size of just under 400 possessions according to Cleaning the Glass, but when LA's big three share the court without a center, the Lakers are outscoring teams by 12.2 points per 100 possessions. Better yet, they have been leaning into center-less lineups even with Davis on the shelf. They have the blueprint for success.

But how quickly will things gel? Brooklyn comes in with their own issues and will be without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for this game. They have been forced to rely on rookies and retreads, and with Nic Claxton day-to-day with a hamstring injury, Brooklyn offers nothing by way of legitimate rim protection (see: them giving up 136 points to the Wolves two nights ago). A once respectable defense ranks just 23rd in the league over their last 30 games, and 27th over their last 15.

The Lakers may not have it all figured out just yet, but they'll have enough to get the job done here. James Harden can't do it by himself, and the Nets simply don't have the bodies at the moment. Give the points on the road.

Nets vs. Lakers Pick

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Article Author

NBA

Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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