The Los Angeles Lakers have suddenly become a reliable team against the spread as they’ve started winning games on a more frequent basis.
The Lakers covered the spread just twice in their 2-10 start to the season. And both of those covers came in those straight-up victories as slight underdogs. But since then, Los Angeles has been 8-4 against the spread as the Lakers have gone 8-4 straight up in that timeframe.
Oddly enough, the Lakers (10-14) have only covered when they’ve won so far in 2022. And a win would equal another cover on Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
L.A. is a 3.5-point underdog on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) against the Sixers as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both expected to play. They sat out a 13-point loss at the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday after Davis left Tuesday night’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers with an illness.
Davis has been phenomenal for the Lakers lately. It’s no coincidence they’ve started winning more as he’s scored more. He’s averaging 27 points and 12 rebounds per game as James is averaging 26 points and nine rebounds per game. The Lakers are getting the production they hoped for from their big two as Russell Westbrook has embraced a bench role.
The Sixers enter on a three-game losing streak and are 12-12 overall. James Harden is back on the court after missing more than a month but he shot just 4-of-19 over 38 minutes in a double-overtime loss to the Houston Rockets on Monday.
Harden is averaging 22 points per game in limited action this season. Like the Lakers, the Sixers need their top two of Harden and Joel Embiid to be as great as possible to have a shot at the title this season.
We’re inclined to lean with the over in this game on a total of 224.5. The over has hit in four of the last five Lakers games and is 6-4 in the last 10 Sixers games.
Nine other NBA games
The second half of the national doubleheader involves the Bucks and Mavericks. The Bucks are 1.5-point favorites after winning six of their last seven games. The only loss in that span? A four-point home defeat to the Lakers.
The Grizzlies are the biggest favorites of the night. Memphis is a 10.5-point home favorite against the Detroit Pistons. Remember, the Pistons are without Cade Cunningham as he deals with a shin injury.
World Cup quarterfinals begin
Friday features the first two World Cup quarterfinals. Croatia plays Brazil at 10 a.m. ET and Argentina and the Netherlands meet at 2 p.m. ET. Both games are on Fox. Click here for our betting preview for all four of the quarterfinals.
Gonzaga is a big favorite Friday night
Gonzaga is the only ranked men’s college basketball team playing on Friday night. The Zags are 16.5-point home favorites at home against Washington. The Huskies have already played two Pac-12 games this season and lost to Oregon State before beating Colorado. Washington is 7-2 and its other loss came by nine at home to California Baptist.
Unique PGA Tour event
The three-round QBE Shootout begins on Friday with Jason Day and Billy Horschel the event favorites at +500. The tournament features 12 two-player teams as Harris English and Matt Kuchar are at +550 to win.
LPGA stars Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson are both in the field but their teams are the two biggest underdogs. Korda and Denny McCarthy are at +2800 while Thompson and Maverick McNealy are at +3300.
Who cashed tickets Thursday?
Baker Mayfield led an extremely improbable comeback in a 17-16 Rams win over the Raiders on Thursday night. The Rams were down 16-3 before scoring twice in the final 185 seconds to win the game. The win pushed the Rams to 4-9 and dropped the Raiders to 5-8. Las Vegas had a credible hope of sneaking into the playoffs had it continued to win. But the loss to the Rams likely ends any chance of that happening.