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Lakers vs. Rockets Game 3 Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Tuesday, Sept. 8)

Lakers vs. Rockets Game 3 Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Tuesday, Sept. 8) article feature image

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.

  • Houston and LA combined for 34-for-80 from behind the arc in Game 2, and the total only went over by 3 points.
  • The over/under for Game 3 opened at 224 points, then rose to 225 before being bet down all the way to 222.
  • Raheem Palmer breaks down Tuesday night's NBA Playoffs matchup, including why he grabbed the under 225 before sharp action annihilated that number.

Editors Note: Since this article was originally published on Tuesday at 12:30 a.m. ET, the Lakers vs. Rockets over/under has fallen dramatically on the strength of heavy sharp action.

Lakers vs. Rockets Betting Odds

Lakers Odds -4.5 [BET NOW]
Rockets Odds +4.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -195/+163 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 222 [BET NOW]
Time Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET

Odds updated as of Tuesday at 6:50 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

If we hadn’t learned our lesson before, it’s very clear now:  Don’t overreact to Game 1 of a playoff series featuring LeBron James.

After the Houston Rockets’ Game 1 drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron stressed to the media that his team would need a game to reacclimate to the Rockets’ speed and quickness.  One quarter into Game 2, the Lakers appeared to be completely comfortable, opening up a double-digit lead on their way to a 117-109 victory.

The Rockets didn’t go quietly however, fighting their way back from a 21-point deficit to take a third quarter lead behind 22 3-pointers, which was the fourth-most in playoff history. But in the end, LA managed to hold on. LeBron James and Anthony Davis came up big, scoring 14 of the team’s 27 fourth quarter points as LA outscored Houston by 10 to close the game.

Now the series is tied 1-1. Let’s see where the betting value is for Game 3.

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LA Lakers

LA’s stars showed out on Sunday night.

With the Lakers wearing their Black Mamba uniforms, LeBron James and Anthony Davis put up a performance reminiscent of Kobe and Shaq. The duo combined for 62 points on 47 true shot attempts, which is good for 1.3 points per possession. LA is now 16-1 this season when James and Davis combine for 60 points, per Elias Sports.

Los Angeles also got solid performances from its supporting cast. Markieff Morris, who had just one shot attempt in Game 1, scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers.

Rajon Rondo added 10 points, nine assists, five steals and three rebounds, in addition to guarding James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Rondo’s two-way contributions afforded him a game-high +28 Plus/Minus.

Vogel did a solid job at working around Rondo’s limitations, not playing him in lineups with a lack of shooting or a traditional center.

The biggest revelation was LA’s decision to play small with Anthony Davis at the five. The Lakers started JaVale McGee at center, but he played only eight minutes. Meanwhile, Dwight Howard didn’t play at all in Game 2 after logging 11 minutes in the series opener.

LA’s small-ball lineup with AD at the five yielded promising results in Game 2, but its long-term effectiveness is questionable. Davis was underwhelming at center in Game 1 but made the offense more fluid by providing spacing.

Whether the Lakers choose to play a traditional center or not, they will need superhuman performances from both Anthony Davis and LeBron James to win this series.

Houston Rockets

Houston we have a problem.

After the series opener, it appeared that LA had no answer for James Harden as he cruised to 36 points and five assists in just 33 minutes. Then in Game 2, the Lakers adjusted their defense, aggressively trapping Harden to take the ball out of his hands.

Harden still scored 27 points and dished out seven assists, but he only took 12 shots. The Lakers’ strategy to force everyone-but-Harden to beat them was optimal, but it came at a severe cost: Giving up open shots to 3-point shooters.

The Rockets shot an incredible 22-for-53 (41.5%) from behind the arc. It goes without saying that these are the games that Houston should win. In fact, the Rockets’ Game 2 loss was their first of the season when shooting 40% or better from 3-point range.

One of Houston’s biggest issues in Game 2 was turnovers: The Rockets coughed up 17 turnovers, resulting in 27 points for LA. Houston’s ability to take care of the ball has been one of the biggest determining factors in its success or failure this postseason. The Rockets have averaged 10.6 turnovers per game in their five wins and 17.3 turnovers per game in their four losses.

Russell Westbrook has been the biggest culprit, giving up seven turnovers in addition single-handedly making the Rockets easier to defend given his shooting struggles. He went 1-for-7 from 3-point range; and with the Lakers leaving him open from deep, those shooting attempts might as well be turnovers. Westbrook was the only Rockets starter to earn a negative net rating (-14) while on the floor on Sunday night.

Game 2 also exposed Houston’s weakness defending the paint. The Lakers capitalized on their size advantage, scoring an astounding 54 points in the paint. This poses a real challenge for Houston for the remainder of the series: Turnovers are correctable, but the Rockets can’t magically increase their players’ height.

If Houston wants to win this series, it must find a way to limit turnovers and points in the paint, and Russell Westbrook must return to form. The Rockets have the math advantage based on their volume of 3-point shot attempts, but if Russell Westbrook can’t find his early-season form, it won’t matter.

Betting Analysis & Pick

After just two games, this has already become a tough series to handicap. The Lakers are banking on LeBron James and Anthony Davis to carry them through the series while the Rockets are dependent on James Harden to be a dominant scorer while swinging the ball to open shooters. You’re essentially betting on Houston’s math advantage vs. LA’s size advantage.

The wild card is Russell Westbrook, who has hurt the Rockets on both sides of the ball. Late in Game 2, I thought that Houston would be in a better position if Westbrook picked up his sixth foul early in the fourth quarter. I’ve liked the Rockets in both games, but given Westbrook’s struggles, I’d rather stay away from the side.

The real value in Game 3 is on the total. This hasn’t been a very fast-paced series, with 97 and 95 possessions in Games 1 and 2 respectively. Game 1 went under the total, and Game 2 went over by only three points despite Houston’s otherworldly shooting performance. The Lakers also had one of their better 3-point shooting performances of the postseason, shooting 12-for-27 from behind the arc.

Houston and LA have each won their respective games by getting 27 points off turnovers, which is more than their postseason averages of 20.6 and 20.7 respectively. The Lakers give up 18.3 points off turnovers per game and the Rockets give up 13.3 per game. You can see that both teams exceeded their average this category and these game still aren’t flying over the total.

I’m having troubling believing this is sustainable. I expect both teams’ shooting and turnovers to regress, so I’m taking the under for Game 3.

Pick: Under 225.

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