The Los Angeles Lakers welcomed the King back from the longest absence of his career on Friday night, but he wasn’t able to will his team to success, as they fell to the Sacramento Kings 110-106 in the disappointing Return of the King. With Anthony Davis seemingly at full strength and LeBron James back in the mix without any restrictions, we’d expect the Lakers to return to their title-defending form sooner rather than later.
Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors
LeBron Looks For First Win Since Return Against Raptors (Season Betting Record: 90-96)
LeBron James did not look limited whatsoever in his first game in over five weeks because of an ankle injury, playing 32 minutes in the contest. Surely, James was expecting to get his boys back in the black on Friday night against a subpar Sacramento team without their best player (De’Aaron Fox), so the loss is disappointing, especially considering LeBron only contributed 16 points while committing five turnovers.
After kicking off a bit of rust over the first couple of games following his own return from an extended absence, L.A.’s Anthony Davis has rediscovered his All-NBA form recently. Over the past three games, Davis has been putting up 22.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 3.0 blocks per game on 50 percent shooting from the field.
Strangely, the return of the King and the Brow’s recent run of individual success have not resulted in much in the way of team success, as the Lakers have lost five of their past six including four of the five games since Davis made his return after over two months on the shelf. They have not covered a spread since April 17th, a span of six games that is by far the longest for the team this season.
The Lakers, therefore, will be looking to get back on track in a big way on Sunday night, which is unfortunate for the Toronto Raptors, who they will host at the Staples Center on Sunday evening. Failing to cover the spread in seven straight games, losing three straight; these are just not things that defending champions are supposed to allow to happen, and with the King and the Brow now back, they should be able to put a stop to these alarming trends.
Another important thing to note here for the Lakers is just how far they’ve slid down in the competitive Western Conference playoff picture. As of this writing, they are sitting in fifth in the West, just a half game ahead of the sixth-place Dallas Mavericks, and only a single game ahead of the seventh-place Portland Trail Blazers and the dreaded play-in tournament that comes with that seed.
No doubt the 36-year-old James and the injury-plagued Davis do not want to be playing any extra games, so avoiding that play-in tournament will be paramount for the franchise during the stretch run of this season. The road back begins on Sunday with the Raptors, who are three points out of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament but don’t seem all that stressed about getting in this season.
The Raptors have really had LeBron’s number lately, however. After the 2018-2019 season, LeBron had amassed a ridiculous 41-10 straight up regular season record against the Raptors in his career, but since he’s joined L.A., he has lost all four meetings with the Dinos. It seems Sunday will truly be all about bucking trends.
It helps that the Raptors have not been very good lately either, losing three of their last four and really struggling away from their fake home this season, going 12-19 against the spread as the away team. LeBron and the Lakers are absolutely desperate for a win here, so we like them as one of our top picks for today.
Considering what’s at stake for the Lakers and how aloof the Raptors have been about their own postseason qualification, it shouldn’t be a problem for L.A. to cover a -7.5 point spread, which is offering solid -111 NBA odds to make it our favorite NBA pick for Sunday evening’s slate.
- Los Angeles has not covered a spread in their last 6 games
- Toronto has lost 3 of their past 4 games
- Toronto is 12-19 ATS on the road this season
- LeBron James is 41-14 SU against the Raptors all-time in the regular season
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.