The Los Angeles Lakers, winners of eight of their last nine games, host the Brooklyn Nets, who have won four straight, including the first three games of this road trip. Thursday’s matchup will be the first between the two teams this season, though the Nets will be without Kevin Durant, leaving them with just two of their three superstars for this game. Even with Durant, it’s hard to see how Brooklyn can play good enough defense to win this game. Lakers vs. Nets Betting Odds The Brooklyn Nets continue to outscore their opponents and have now won four straight games as they head to the Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers. The defending champions have won eight of their last nine games, but both teams in this game will be without superstars. Kevin Durant is missing his third straight game due to a hamstring issue while Anthony Davis is missing a second game due to a strained Achilles tendon. That will certainly color the first of two matchups this season between these two teams that might end up a preview of the NBA Finals. Without Durant on the floor, the Nets have been perfectly fine offensively. They have averaged 132.7 points per game in the first three games of this Western Conference swing, including 128 on Tuesday in Phoenix when Kyrie Irving also missed the game due to a back issue. Irving is expected to play Thursday against the Lakers, which will be a major help to James Harden. The more scorers the Nets have on the floor, the better their chances will be to put a dent in the second-best defense in the league this year. In particular, the Lakers are as good defensively against the 3-pointer as the Nets are offensively at taking the 3. Los Angeles ransk third in 3-pointers allowed per game and 3-point field-goal percentage defense while Brooklyn ranks second in 3-point shooting percentage. The Nets don’t have a really good answer for slowing down LeBron James, but few teams have that capability. The big key for Brooklyn is how it will defend the paint against the quality depth the Lakers will throw at the Nets without Davis available. Davis’ absence gives an opportunity to Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma to assume larger roles on both ends of the floor for the Lakers, and that means exposing Brooklyn’s deficiencies in the paint. Brooklyn is allowing the most two-point field goals in the league and allowing the second-most two-point attempts, opening the door for Harrell and Kuzma to have a great game in the paint. The legal sports betting sites in New Jersey have installed the Lakers as 2.5-point favorites, which makes sense given they have the best player in the game and are at home. The question isn’t whether or not the Lakers will win because they are the better team, and I expect their defense to smother the Nets’ offense. It’s simply about finding the right value at the NBA betting sites in New Jersey to bet on Los Angeles. We could always extend the spread to 6.5 or 7.5 points, but there is more value in tying a Lakers win to the total point total. Ten of Brooklyn’s last 11 games have exceeded 230 total points, so it might make sense to bet the parlay on the Lakers winning and over 233.5 points for +190 odds. However, the Lakers aren’t going to win by outdueling the Nets in a high-scoring contest. The reason Brooklyn’s games are so high scoring is that the Nets score a lot and also allow a lot of points. Without Davis, I find it tough to expect the Lakers to crack 115 in this game, but they have the defense to keep the Nets to less than 112 points. As a result, I’m going to bet on Los Angeles to win and there to be under 233.5 points for the more profitable +260 odds at the basketball betting sites in New Jersey. My Prediction Los Angeles -2.5 Brooklyn has won four straight, but it hasn’t played good defense the last three games. Without Kevin Durant, the Nets are going to need more defense and rebounding to outscore the Lakers, and that just doesn’t seem likely. This is a game that Los Angeles has had circled to prove to the league that the defending champions are primed for a repeat.