The Western Conference showdown at Staples Center on Friday night will be a pure joy to watch even though we won’t see Zion Williamson in action. The West-leading Lakers (27-7; 18-16 ATS) will eye their fourth straight victory, but the New Orleans Pelicans (11-23; 15-19 ATS) have been terrific over the last two weeks and are coming on a four-game winning streak to LA.
The hosts are heavy favorites for a reason, albeit the Pelicans are red hot at the moment, so we should see a great game between two in-form teams. Since Anthony Davis’ trade, both Lakers and Pelicans have an extra motive when they meet each other. Back in November, the Lakers defeated the Pelicans 114-110 as 6.5-point road favorites.
The Pelicans are still waiting for Zion Williamson to recover from knee surgery and make his NBA debut. All other guys are ready to go. The Lakers are coming in full strength.
The Lakers opened as 11-point favorites with the total at 222.5 points. They are 7-1 SU and 4-4 ATS in eight outings as home as double-digit favorites this season. The Pelicans are 3-7 SU and 9-1 ATS in their previous ten showings on the road as double-digit underdogs.
What’s at Stake?
The visitors have nothing to lose here. They are written off and can only make a huge upset. The Lakers, on the other side, can lose a lot. They need to win games like this one to stay in the pole position in the race for No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The Pelicans started their streak with a 102-94 road victory over Portland and extended it with three wins over some heavyweight opponents. They beat Denver 112-100 on the road and Indiana 120-98 and Houston 127-112 at home. On the other side, the Lakers are coming off a 117-107 home victory over Phoenix this past Wednesday when they had a 33-point lead at halftime.
Considering the stats, the Lakers should have an easy job Friday night. They are fourth in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions (104.8) and sixth in points scored per 100 possessions (112.0). On the other side, the Pelicans allow 112.2 points per 100 possessions (24th) while tallying 108.1 in a return (19th).
New Orleans is solid offensively, shooting 36.9% from beyond the arc (5th) while dishing 24.9 assists per game (11th). Brandon Ingram (25.3 PPG, 49.1 FG%) and Jrue Holiday (19.9 PPG, 6.5 APG) are huge treats, while J.J. Redick (15.3 PPG, 45.2 3P%) and Josh Hart (10.9 PPG, 35.3 3P%) both can make it rain from downtown. However, the Pelicans will suffer on the other side of the ball.
The Lakers have too many offensive weapons for the Pelicans’ D. New Orleans’ frontcourt is thin and will struggle against Anthony Davis (27.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG). The Brow dropped 41 points on 15-for-30 from the field on his former team in their first meeting of the season. The Lakers scored a whopping 62 points in the paint and made 51.8% of their field goals.
The Pelicans kept it close thanks to 13 offensive rebounds and 17 treys. Jrue Holiday had 29 points on 12-for-23 shooting along with 12 assists, six boards, and four 3-pointers. Brandon Ingram added 23 points, but he missed nine of his 11 attempts from deep.
The Pelicans can keep it close if they shoot the ball as well as they did in that four-point loss at home, but I don’t see that happening. They’ve won four straight games and are 5-1 SU and ATS over the last six, beating some tough teams in that span. One more upset would be too much. At least, I think so. If you need a team for a teaser, I suggest you go with the Lakers. You can also take them as 8.5-point favorites at -160 odds. The Lakers are 4-5 against a double-digit spread this season, while the Pelicans are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 outings as double-digit dogs (1-1 this season).
Still, I’m going against betting trends, as the Pelicans are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 meetings with the Lakers. The hosts to cover an alternative spread is my first choice, while the totals could easily go either way. The over is 6-2 in the last eight encounters between the Pelicans and Lakers, and I would stick with trends here. The Lakers are certainly capable to score a bunch of points against the Pelicans, and I hope the visitors will help with a solid shooting night.