Lakers vs. Jazz NBA Odds & Picks: LA’s Offense Will Continue to Struggle
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.
- The Lakers have struggled of late and now have a matchup against the red-hot Utah Jazz.
- LeBron James has been working overtime, but hasn't been able to overcome the loss of Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder.
- Austin Wang breaks down this matchup of Western Conference heavyweights and makes a prediction below.
Lakers vs. Jazz Odds
|Moneyline||+270 / -350|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
Times are tough for the Los Angeles Lakers, who have dropped four of their past five games. Things do not get easier as they travel to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz, who are 21-2 straight up and 20-3 against the spread during that stretch.
Both Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder will be out for this game, so this marquee matchup on national television loses some of its luster and competitiveness.
The Lakers are overmatched and the Jazz should cover the spread even as it nears double digits at some books. However, I see more value on the total between these two teams.
Los Angeles Lakers
It is no surprise the Lakers are struggling right now. With both Davis and Schroder missing, points have been hard to come by for the reigning champs. Schroder is one of the few Lakers who can create his own shot and is never afraid to shoot.
Without his irrational confidence, they’ve had to rely more on the inconsistent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma on offense, which is not ideal. In the three games since Schroder and Davis have been out, the Lakers rank 25th in Offensive Rating (103.9), according to NBA Advanced Stats.
Montrezl Harrell should be the beneficiary of increased minutes with Davis out of the lineup; however, his playing time is not reflecting as such. He still remains as one of the league’s best bench scorers and contributes the second-most Win Shares (3.8) on the team. The only issue is that the Jazz have abundant size and interior to defense to neutralize many of the undersized Harrell’s strengths.
On the other side of the ball, the Lakers have the top defense in the league with a 105.5 Defensive Rating, per NBA Advanced Stats. However, they’ve fallen to 16th in their past five games. They still have strong defenders like the savvy Marc Gasol and an underrated Kuzma who can help disrupt the Jazz on offense. The Lakers allow the sixth lowest 3-point percentage in the league, which will bode well against the 3-point happy Jazz.
LeBron James has been working overtime on both ends of the floor in the last several games without some of his best teammates. We all know he will rise up to the challenge, especially in such a high stakes game.
In James’ tenure with Lakers, when they play a regular season game against an opponent with a win percentage greater than 66%, the games go 22-8 (73.3%) to the under, per the Sports Data Query Language database. The Lakers take these marquee games seriously and bring their ‘A’ game on defense. I suspect we’ll see the same effort tonight.
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After a rare loss to the LA Clippers last Friday, the Jazz bounced back against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday evening. After trailing by three at halftime, the Jazz dominated the fourth quarter and outscored the Hornets 41-20. Their offense has looked like a well-oiled machine, but their defense is really what stands out, ranking second in the NBA in Defensive Rating (107.1).
In an era of small ball and high-volume 3-point shooting, Rudy Gobert is proof that the big man is still relevant and he has cemented himself as the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the league in Defensive Win Shares (2.2) and Defensive Rating (100.5), per Basketball Reference. He is averaging a career-high 2.7 blocks per game. The On/Off numbers show that the Jazz’s Defensive Rating decreases by 8.4 points when he is off the court.
Without Anthony Davis, Gobert will not have such a tough assignment and will be able to provide help defense on James. Also, Gobert has a much bigger size advantage than Montrezl Harrell and should be able to help keep the Lakers from scoring very much.
The Jazz are heavily dependent on 3s this season with 48.5% of their field goal attempts coming from behind the arc However, the Lakers defend 3s well and rank sixth in the league in Opponent’s 3-point Percentage (35.04%).
Since the 2015-2016 season, games featuring two elite teams (defined as teams with a 60% winning percentage) from the same conference have gone under 58.8% of the time, per our Bet Labs tool.
These teams tend to play more defense against conference rivals when they are fighting for seeding. This should hold especially true for these two strong defensive teams and the Lakers are fighting to stay up top after a bad stretch.
While it may be tempting to bet the over on this hot-shooting Jazz team, I think the Lakers’ defense will come to play against the team with the best record in the NBA. I predict the Lakers’ offense will continue to struggle against the Jazz defense. I also predict there could be a game script where the Jazz build a big lead, which is more conducive to a low scoring game.
My projected score is 113 to 104 in favor of the Jazz and I recommend a play on the under.
Pick: Under 220 (down to 219)