Lakers vs. Pacers Odds, Preview, Picks: How to Bet Matchup Depending on Who’s Active (Saturday, May 15)

Lakers vs. Pacers Odds, Preview, Picks: How to Bet Matchup Depending on Who’s Active (Saturday, May 15) article feature image
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Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma, Wesley Matthews, Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

  • The Lakers and Pacers meet on Saturday in Indiana as the regular season winds down.
  • The Lakers still have an outside shot of avoiding the play-in, but who will suit up for either side?
  • Brandon Anderson previews the game and makes his betting prediction below.

Lakers vs. Pacers Odds

Lakers Odds -7
Pacers Odds +7
Moneyline -300 / +245
Over/Under N/A
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV NBATV
Odds as of Saturday morning and via FanDuel.

It sure looks like this is a matchup between two teams headed for the play-in tournament next week, but it’s safe to say one of these teams is not exactly like the other.

The Lakers are still holding out hope to escape the play-in. They can do that only if they win their last two games and see Portland lose on Sunday. That would propel Los Angeles into the 6-seed, as the Lakers can no longer catch Dallas. It remains to be seen whether that’s good or not. It would mean facing the Clippers or Nuggets. A loss by the Lakers here sends them to the play-in tournament as the 7-seed.

The Pacers are definitely heading into the Eastern Conference play-in tourney, but they’re still jostling for positioning. Indiana is tied with both Charlotte and Washington at 33 wins each now. One of those teams will get the 8-seed, with two chances to win and enter the playoffs. The other two will face off in an elimination game first before needing to win a second.

Suffice to say both these teams desperately want a win. The question is who in the world will actually play for either team?

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are listed as questionable. Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert are questionable for Indiana. Malcolm Brogdon is definitely out. Dennis Schroder is questionable too, as are Aaron Holiday and Alex Caruso. It’s an absolute disaster of an injury report, and an early afternoon tip, too.

It goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway: make sure to check our injury report before making your pick.

Defense Will Carry Lakers, Just as it Has All Season

The Lakers have made their living on defense all season. Even with all the missing bodies all year, the Lakers remain No. 1 overall in Defensive Rating, per Basketball Reference. The offense is what’s been lacking. Believe it or not, the Lakers rank just 24th in the NBA in Offensive Efficiency right now.

That’s seventh worst in the entire league, and it’s not just because of LeBron and Davis being out. The offense — especially the half-court offense — has been a slog all season. The Lakers rank bottom 10 in the NBA in 3-point makes, attempts and percentage and even worse in free throw percentage. This team severely lacks shooting, and outside of getting to the line well (because, duh, it’s the Lakers), there’s really no other particular metric that paints a rosy picture for this LA offense.

The defense remains terrific at mostly everything. The Lakers are especially good at limiting 3-pointers, though that strength is muted against a Pacers team that’s still not strong behind the arc. LA is tough on the glass, forces a ton of turnovers and forces the opponent to take a lot of tough shots. Sounds like a great defense.

So let’s get to the real question: will any of the key Lakers actually play?

Kyle Kuzma and Marc Gasol are probable and should go. Expect Kuzma to carry a big offensive load. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Andre Drummond should be good to go, too, and Schroder seems to have been targeting a Saturday return so he could play.

I’m not so sure we’ll see LeBron and/or Davis, though. James did practice Friday but Frank Vogel said there was “a chance” he’d play, so that seems iffy. As for Davis, he got banged up earlier this week in a tough win and was downgraded Friday from probable to questionable, so that’s never a good sign.

Editor’s note: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder will all be active.

The Lakers would certainly like to win this one, but the games that matter most start next week, and if one of these stars can’t go, it might make sense to pack the other one in bubble wrap too and just see if the reserves can find a way in a winnable game.

Turner’s Availability the Story for Indiana

And this is certainly a winnable game, because the Pacers could end up in even worse shape than the Lakers. Remember, T.J. Warren never played a minute this season and both Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner are out, so that’s already three missing starters. Sabonis and LeVert are the other two, and they’re both questionable.

Sabonis left the last game early but that was reportedly a precaution, so he might be the best bet of the questionable stars to suit up. Indiana certainly needs him out there. Sabonis has been an absolute monster down the stretch. His numbers dipped against the Bucks in reduced minutes as he left early, but he was averaging 24.6 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 11.0 assists per game in the previous seven games since returning from injury. If Sabonis does play, expect another huge line and look for a possible over to play.

LeVert looks more like a 50-50 decision. He’s been the second handler for this team, and with Indiana missing Edmond Sumner, Jeremy Lamb and possibly Aaron Holiday along with Brogdon, the Pacers sure could use LeVert’s handling and creation out there.

The Pacers tend to shoot more 2s than the average NBA team, and on defense it’s the exact opposite. Indiana’s defense limits 3s well and funnels opponents toward the rim, allowing a ton of 2-point attempts but usually keeping the opponent 2-point percentage in check. Unfortunately, that’s a scheme entirely dependent on Turner, and this defense has fallen apart without their Defensive Player of the Year contender in the middle.

Per Killer Sports, Indiana games without Turner have gone over a whopping 17 of 23 times this season, hitting the over 73.9% of the time. And they’re not just going over. They’re absolutely slaughtering the line. Turner-less Pacers games have closed with a line averaging 224.7 points but have actually averaged 240.8 PPG, meaning Pacers games are averaging going over by more than 16 points a game with Turner out. That’s nine overs in the last 11 such games, too. And in those 11 games, at least one of the teams involved has scored 130 or more points in eight of them.

Whoever ends up playing for this game, someone is going to score. And they’re probably going to score a lot.

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Lakers-Pacers Pick

So how in the world do we play a game in which we literally don’t know who is playing?

Great question. A great question indeed.

Honestly, this feels like a stay away with so much unknown, but we should know more by the time you read this Saturday morning and look to make a decision.

I’m expecting more of what we’ve seen from the Pacers lately. That’s a fast-paced team that scores a lot and gives up even more points. I’ll expect a big line from Sabonis if he plays.

I’m not convinced we’re getting the full Lakers in this one. LA doesn’t even control its destiny. The Lakers could go all out twice, win both games, and still end up in the play-in anyway but with two banged up, tired superstars. That’s a worst-case scenario for LA, and it’s honestly quite realistic since the Blazers play the Nuggets Sunday night and Denver will have every incentive to lose the game, push the Lakers into the play-in, and secure its spot as the 4-seed with a favorable path.

I’m wondering if LA’s best plan at this point is to just pack it in and get everyone as healthy as possible by Wednesday.

As of writing, the Lakers are 7-point road favorites, which certainly makes it look like the books expect at least one of the LA stars to play. That makes Indiana a +245 moneyline underdog at FanDuel.

If you feel like gambling and that line is still available with unknown injury statuses, I might roll the dice on a Pacers ML win. That line implies less than a 30% chance of Indiana winning, and with a game that means a lot to Indiana and the potential that the Lakers could be missing all their best guys, I like those odds.

The best trend available here is that 17-6 Pacers games overs without Turner. Unfortunately, there’s no total out yet for the game, and it’s tough to recommend an over when it’s possible LeBron, Brow, Sabonis, LeVert and Schroder all sit and suddenly we’re relying on Talen Horton-Tucker and Oshae Brissett to get us over 230. Yikes.

Until we have some idea about injuries, I’m staying away. If you want to play anyway, I don’t mind rolling the dice on the +245 underdog. And if the stars do end up mostly playing, I’ll probably look to take the game over.

Clear as mud? Perfect. Sorta like this entire weekend of basketball.

Pick: Stay away without injury news, otherwise roll the dice on Indiana +245 ML pre-injury news or consider the game over if the stars are playing

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