Lakers vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: Back Los Angeles To Cover Number

Lakers vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: Back Los Angeles To Cover Number article feature image
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Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

  • The Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets go at it Sunday in Western Conference showdown.
  • The Lakers are looking for their eighth win of the season.
  • Brandon Anderson tells us why he's backing L.A. to cover and win below.

Lakers vs. Rockets Odds

Lakers Odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Rockets Odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -175/+145 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 224.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds as of Sunday at 10 a.m. ET and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Even after a tumultuous weekend of COVID-19 news, the NBA continues to forge forward. And Sunday’s card is highlighted by the return of a playoff series we saw just a few months ago.

The Houston Rockets won the first game in that matchup , claiming they had no fear of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Lakers responded with four consecutive dominant wins, going on to win the title in the Orlando bubble.

These are still the same Lakers, but the stakes are much lower. On the other side, the Rockets have swapped out Russell Westbrook and Mike D’Antoni for yet another new look.

Will this version of the Rockets have any better luck?

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Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are 7-3 and sit tied atop the West with Phoenix, even though it feels like they have barely even shifted above second or third gear for most of the season. Los Angeles ranks in the top quarter of the league in both offense and defense, but it feels like the team is just coasting through things.

Remember when the Golden State Warriors knew they could just flip the switch late and get a win when they need to? The Lakers are playing this season with that sort of swagger so far.

Since the calendar flipped to the new year, the Lakers are just grinding out wins late. They beat the San Antonio Spurs by six points; the Memphis Grizzlies by 14 after a big fourth quarter; the Grizzles again by two; and, the Chicago Bulls by two points. There was a San Antonio Spurs loss sandwiched in there as well.

It’s not exactly a murderer’s row, and the Lakers are 1-4 against the spread during that stretch, yet 4-1 outright.

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This is what a LeBron James championship defense looks like. James knows what this team can do, knows what he can do and hits that extra gear only when he feels like it. James and Anthony Davis continue to be listed as questionable most nights out, but LeBron has yet to miss a game and Davis has sat only two.

The Lakers have a rest day both before and after this one, so it stands to reason that the two should play. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is less likely so suit up with his ankle injury.

The Lakers’ defense is good enough to allow it to hang close for three quarters and close things out late, when James cranks things up a notch and finishes the job. Los Angeles isn’t forcing turnovers like it did a year ago, but it dominates the glass and has an excellent defensive shot profile that’s especially tough inside the arc.


Houston Rockets

The Rockets are 3-4, but playing well so far, considering how mixed expectations were heading into the season. Stephen Silas is the new coach, while John Wall is finally back on the court after a couple years away.

It’s great to see Wall back out there again, and it doesn’t look like his athleticism has been sapped too much, but his assist numbers are way down. Wall is scoring 21 points per game, but playing off the ball more with James Harden and hitting only 30 percent of his threes, so it’s safe to say Houston is still working out the kinks.

Harden may or may not be in top shape at the moment, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Christian Wood has been Houston’s breakout star at center, and Harden has never played with a pick-and-pop weapon like the situation. Wood is questionable with a knee injury tonight and would face another animal altogether in Davis if he goes.

Wood is a heavy betting favorite to win Most Improved Player right now, but this could be a bit of a reality check for him. He’s averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds, but only hitting 25% of his threes. He’s just getting a ton of easy looks, courtesy of Wall and Harden, and those may not be as easy to find against a tough Los Angeles defense.

The Rockets’ offense has been a bit more balanced this year. Houston’s three-point attempts are “only” among the top 10 teams in the NBA, and the club is only hitting at 35 percent, ranking in the bottom 10. The Rockers are still elite finishing inside the arc, ranking first at 59.5% on two-point percentage.

Houston’s underlying metrics paint the Rockets as a solid playoff team (better than the 3-4 record), but this is definitely a team still trying to figure itself out.

Like the Lakers, the Rockets have a day off both before and after this game, so it’s reasonable to expect a full go from this roster if Wood is available. Houston certainly has the firepower to hang with Los Angeles, but can it finish the job?

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Lakers-Rockets Pick

In the end, I fear that the greatest Rockets’ strengths will be muted by even stronger Lakers’ strengths.

Houston’s offense is built around finding easy points. It draws a ton of fouls and free throws, plus racks up easy looks at the rim. However, the Lakers barely foul and are one of the league’s best defenses.

Rebounding here is going to be a serious mismatch as well. Houston is one of the worst teams in the category, with the Lakers being are one of the best. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Lakers win the rebounding battle by a 15-20 margin in the statistics. Suffice it to say, if you give James that many extra chances, it probably won’t go super well for the opposition.

It’s tough to bet too early on this one since there’s always a risk that a big name like James, Davis or Harden could be a late scratch. As it is, the Lakers are 3.5-point favorites and it looks like sports books are assuming full rosters. I would set the line at -5, so I think there’s some value on Los Angeles.

Bottom line, the Lakers are just too good right now. Even if they dog it for 40 minutes, they’re still good enough to show up for the final eight and win.

I’ll play the Lakers up to -4 and otherwise will wait until closer to tip to make sure everyone is playing. And at that point, I might hold off anyway for an opportunity to live bet the Lakers (assuming James is playing) if the Rockets take a small lead, hoping for a Lakers moneyline wager at near even odds.

This team is just finding a way to win late, and this a matchup in Los Angeles’ favor.

Pick: Lakers -4 (live Lakers ML wager if trailing)

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