With Anthony Davis taking his sweet time nursing a lower calf injury, the Los Angeles Lakers were going to have to rely on LeBron James heavily to get them through to the Brow’s return. Unfortunately for them, the most durable player in NBA history—LeBron—suffered a high ankle sprain Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks and is now expected to miss at least three weeks.
Free Picks: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Pelicans Look To Take Advantage Of Maimed Lakers At Home (Season Betting Record: 64-70)
Without Davis and James the lion’s share of the offensive production for the Lakers has suddenly fallen by the wayside. Guys like Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, and Talen Horton-Tucker will really need to step their games up over the next few contests if they want to stay in the competitive Western Conference playoff picture while their stars are out.
The quartet we mentioned is solid, but beyond that the Lakers don’t have much in terms of talent or consistency and head coach Frank Vogel has not proven himself to be very deft with his rotations. They’ll head to the Bayou on Tuesday night as underdogs against the Pelicans, who have been awful as favorites at the Smoothie King Center this year, going 3-10 against the spread.
However, we love the Pelicans -5.5 NBA point spread at -114 NBA odds against the Lakeshow—just hear us out. Los Angeles is a team built to play great defense and rely on their two superstars to carry the offensive load, so while the defense should remain solid with their top guys out, they’ll have a lot of trouble keeping up with high-scoring teams, such as New Orleans.
New Orleans is fifth in the league with 115.3 points per game this season, and we’re pretty confident this Lakers group is not sniffing 115 points anytime soon. We doubt the Lakers scraps will be able to keep up with New Orleans’ superior firepower, which is a big reason this Pelicans’ spread is one of our top picks for today.
The Pelicans actually won and covered the spread in their most recent game as a home favorite, and have been ATS winners in four of their past five games, including their last two at the SKC, where they’ve struggled overall this year. The Lakers have not loved playing in the French Quarter over the past few years either, going 2-5 ATS against the Pelicans in New Orleans over the past seven meetings.
Whether the Lakers keep it close and competitive or if they get the socks beaten off of them, you can expect the youngster Horton-Tucker to get a lot of run, which is why we think the over on his 12.5 points prop at -120 NBA odds is one of our best bets for today.
Horton-Tucker didn’t have a great shooting night in L.A.’s last game against the Phoenix Suns—a 17-point loss during which they were never really competitive in the second half—going 6-for-16 from the field, but he still scored 17 points and played 28 minutes.
We’d expect the up-and-comer to be one of the most aggressive Lakers on the offensive end while both LeBron and the Brow are sidelined, and Vogel and the staff will not be shy about giving him all the minutes he can handle as they evaluate just how good the 20-year-old really is.
- New Orleans is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings at Smoothie King Center
- New Orleans is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games against Western Conference foes
- New Orleans is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- Talen Horton Tucker scored 17 points in L.A.’s first game without LeBron
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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.