Lakers vs. Pelicans NBA Odds & Picks: No LeBron, No Problem! Back Lakers as Road Dogs
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images. Alex Caruso #4 and the Los Angeles Lakers huddle up during a game.
- The Lakers head east without LeBron James and Anthony Davis to take on the Pelicans.
- While Los Angeles will be without either of its stars, New Orleans has been a very unreliable favorite for bettors this season.
- Austin Wang makes the case for the Pelicans as home favorites over the defending champions.
Lakers vs. Pelicans Odds
|Moneyline||+190 / -240|
|Time||Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via PointsBet|
The Los Angeles Lakers visit the Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans, where they'll find themselves in an unfamiliar underdog position. Without superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Los Angeles opened as six-point underdogs to the Pelicans, who are coming off an impressive win in Denver.
The trade deadline is also this Thursday, Mar. 25, and Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball and Lakers center Montrezl Harrell's names are the major names swirling around in trade rumors. As such, monitor their status on the Bet Labs Insider tool because Ball is currently listed as questionable. Also, if any trades are close to materializing, these teams may sit the players to further risk injury.
I think the betting public is going to line up to fade the Lakers right now; however, I believe the six-point spread is a bit too much against the defending champions, even without James and Davis.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers might be in trouble. They only have a five-game lead over the No. 8-seed Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference. With James and Davis likely weeks away from returning, there must be a sense of urgency with Los Angeles' current roster. Even the front office must feel like a move for another playmaker is necessary.
Los Angeles' last two games have been a disaster, failing to reach 100 points in both. To be fair, the Lakers faced two very tough defenses in the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, and now they'll get the defensively inept Pelicans, against whom I think their offense can find success.
With Marc Gasol likely out again, the Lakers will be forced to play small-ball with increased minutes for Markieff Morris and Harrell at center.
Although they are not a good 3-point shooting team, the Lakers will naturally have to shoot more from beyond the arc with Steven Adams protecting the middle for the Pelicans. Los Angeles gets a great matchup to do so, given how poor the Pelicans' 3-point defense has been this season.
Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma will have to look to continue establishing themselves as the de-facto alpha dogs in the Lakers' offense. Also, when Adams sits, there is not much from the Pelicans' bench to replace him, which should allow Harrell to potentially thrive. I also expect that Harrell wants to stay in Los Angeles for a chance to win a championship and will be looking to deliver and prove his worth to the Lakers.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been on a roller-coaster ride this season and seem to have an identity crisis. They began the season as a slow, prodding team focused on defense. Then, head coach Stan Van Gundy realized there was so much untapped potential on offense and they started playing at a faster pace, all the while throwing defense out the window.
This has led to inconsistent results, which is why I cannot trust them to cover a large spread. The Pelicans are only 7-12-1 (36.8%) against the spread (ATS) as favorites this season, per our Bet Labs tool.
Not having Ball hurts. Even though New Orleans won its last game against the Nuggets without him, the on/off-court numbers show that the Pelicans' Net Rating decreases by 6.4 with him off the court, per Basketball Reference, which shows how valuable he is to this offense.
Eric Bledsoe has had a disappointing season and his statistics have taken a sharp decline, only scoring 11.5 PPG off 42.2% shooting from the field. Known throughout his career as an above-average defender, his impact on the defensive end has been quite poor, which has made him a net negative to the team. That means Schroder will continue to be aggressive and capitalize on the Pelicans' weaknesses.
Since the 2015-16 season, below-.500 home teams off a three-game road trip where they won their previous game have gone 61-95-2 (39.1%) ATS, according to the SDQL database. This is active as a fade against the Pelicans. Teams in this situation come home relaxed after getting that last win on the road and tend to have a let-down spot.
The Lakers should be the more motivated team, as they must improve their play to prevent themselves from falling down the standings in the stacked Western Conference playoff race. I anticipate Harrell will continue his strong play as he wants to prove his value and worth to the Lakers in order to prevent himself from getting traded.
Even with the Lakers' injuries, I do not believe it merits laying this much chalk on the New Orleans Pelicans. I make the line on this game Pelicans -3.5, which indicates to me that the line is too high. My recommendation is a play on the Lakers to cover the spread.
Pick: Lakers +6 (down to +4.5)