LA Lakers star LeBron James is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday against the New York Knicks. (Photo by Prensa Internacional/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
- James Harden likely to return to the Brooklyn Nets for the first time in 5 weeks on Wednesday night
- LeBron James gives it another go after false start in return from high ankle sprain
- What trends from when those players were injured before can be relied upon?
The NBA gets a little extra interesting tonight, and not just because of the looming expanded postseason. James Harden is expected to be back for the Brooklyn Nets, and LeBron James for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Harden has not played in five weeks because of a hamstring injury, and James will give it another go after coming back too early from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for the longest stretch of his 17-year career.
The playoffs are just around the corner, and with the Nets favored to come out of the East and the Lakers favored to emerge from the West, we all will get a reminder of why these teams are so highly regarded despite not leading their respective conferences.
Brooklyn is trying to stay 2nd in the East; Los Angeles wants to stay out of the play-in tournament in the West.
Spurs vs Nets Odds
|Team||Point Spread||Over/Under||Money Line|
|San Antonio Spurs||Spurs +5.5 (-112)||Over 231 (-108)||+188|
|Brooklyn Nets||Nets +5.5 (-112)||Under 231 (-113)||-230|
Odds from DraftKings on May 12th.
What to Expect From Brooklyn With Harden Back
The Bearded One has not appeared in a game since April 5 when he went down four minutes into a matchup with the Knicks. It came right as Harden was playing some of the best basketball of his career.
Harden had 44 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists on March 26 against Detroit, then had 38 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds against Minnesota for his 12th triple-double as a member of the Nets. They won the night Harden got injured to improve to 35-16 but have gone only 10-8 since, falling behind Philadelphia in the East.
If the Nets’ Big Three of Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are all in uniform, it’ll be only the eighth time all three of them were on the court together for the Nets. In the 186 minutes Durant, Harden and Irving have played together, the Nets have outscored opponents by 39 total points, 9.8 per 100 possessions.
Harden no longer qualifies for the league leaders, but his 10.9 assists would be second to Russell Westbrook’s 11.6 if he did. Harden has been especially proficient as a passer when he plays with the second unit, and in the seven games that he played with both of his superstar colleagues he became the de facto point guard.
JAMES HARDEN IS OFFICIALLY BACK
LEAGUE IS IN TROUBLE pic.twitter.com/5Pt8u08ixU
— arian (@arxanii) May 12, 2021
What Has Harden Done In Past Comebacks?
There ain’t a large body of work to pull from here because Harden is one of the NBA’s most durable players. Last season, he returned from aa two-game absence and went 5-for-18 in a 13-point loss to Portland, and the previous season he emerged from a three-game respite by going 7-for-17 in an eight-point victory over Chicago. In 2017-18 he returned from a seven-game absence and went 3-for-15 in an 18-point victory over Minnesota. He missed only three games in the three previous seasons combined.
Brooklyn, which has the NBA’s third-best home record (25-8), has gone 35-34-0 against the spread including 16-17-0 at home. The Nets have gone under in five of their past six games, while the Spurs have lost six of eight and have gone “over” in six of nine. The Nets are 27-8 with Harden in the lineup but 18-17 ATS.
In order for the Nets to be at full strength, Kyrie is going to have to shake off any lingering brain fog from this happenstance last night
Kyrie Irving took an inadvertent elbow to the face from Nikola Vucevic and was helped by trainers.
He eventually walked to the locker room under his own power. pic.twitter.com/EZoyjHZBJt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 12, 2021
Rockets vs Lakers Odds
|Team||Point Spread||Over/Under||Money Line|
|Houston Rockets||+11.5 (-114)||Over 222.5 (-109)||+460|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-11.5 (-108)||Under 222.5 (-113)||-625|
King James Returns For a Lakers Team That Ain’t All That Good
The Lake Show is 39-30 entering tonight’s title against the NBA-worst Houston Rockets, who have lost six in a row, 11 of 12 and 21 of 24. Houston is a league-worst 8-27-0 at home against the spread, although the Rockets went “over” in their last games – all on the road. At 25-44-0, Houston is tied with Cleveland for the worst ATS record in the NBA.
The strongest among the Lakers’ betting trends is going under 21 times in 35 road games.
James played two weekends ago following a six-week absence caused by his high ankle sprain and the Lakers lost both games to inferior opponents. James was 6-for-11 against the Kings and 6-for-12 against the Raptors and experienced soreness afterward, putting him back on the shelf for five games.
The Lakers are 29-15 with James in the lineup; 10-15 without him. He may or may not have Anthony Davis alongside him after Davis aggravated a strained groin last night against New York.
L.A. currently sits in seventh place in the West, one game behind Portland and Dallas. The Lakers are incentivized to win out the remainder of the regular season to avoid the play-in tournament involving teams seeded seventh through 10th. The Lakers are 20-23 ATS with James in the lineup.
The big question will be how much they get from James, who tried to come back too soon from the longest injury absence of his career. James did not miss consecutive games at any time last season. in 2018-19, he missed 17 consecutive games before returning with a 24-point performance in a victory over the Clippers.
James played all 82 games in 2017-18 and did not miss consecutive games the previous season.
And tonight, he hangs another banner. We shall see if that fires him up.
Tonight we celebrate Banner No. 17. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/LV5LrQI5HF
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 12, 2021
Chris Sheridan has been covering sports gambling since 2018 when PASPA was overturned. a veteran journalist with 30+ years experience covering sports for the Associated Press, ESPN, SheridanHoops and BasketballNews.com, he has been at the forefront of sports gambling coverage since it was legalized.