Pelicans-Lakers Betting Preview: Trust LeBron James and Co. at Home?

Pelicans-Lakers Betting Preview: Trust LeBron James and Co. at Home? article feature image

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23), New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11).

Betting Odds: New Orleans Pelicans-Los Angeles Lakers

  • Spread: Lakers -5.5
  • Over/Under: 239.5
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN

>> All odds as of 2:30 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

The Lakers and Pelicans have been linked ever since LeBron James hinted that he would like to play with Anthony Davis back in December. Every mention of the two teams together since that point has meant drama for the Lakers, from tampering accusations to trade rumors.

Now, with the Lakers clinging to their playoff hopes (29-31 entering Wednesday’s game), they face the Pelicans at home.

Lakers Odds to Miss the Playoffs (via Westgate):

  • All-Star break: -145
  • After loss to Pelicans: -250
  • After loss to Grizzlies: -400

Can the Lakers snap their two-game losing streaks and turn around their season against the Pelicans? Our analysts discuss.

Betting Trends to Know

Consensus projection for the Lakers to miss the playoffs (ESPN, 538, Basketball-Reference) is 92%. Even at -400 odds (80.0% implied probability) there is value betting LA to miss the playoffs. — John Ewing

This is the 12th game since January that the Lakers have been favored. LA went 4-7 straight up and 3-7-1 against the spread in the previous 11 games. — Ewing

The Lakers are the most profitable home team to the under this season. In 29 home games they are 21-7-1 (75%) to the under, going under the total by 5.6 points per game.

Part of the reason for the “under” success at Staples Center for the Lakers has been their defense. Their Defensive Efficiency is almost five full points better at home (104.2, eighth in the NBA) than on the road (109.1, 16th). — Evan Abrams

The Pelicans-Lakers over/under opened at 239, which would be the second-highest total in Lakers home games over the last 20 years, behind a T-Wolves-Lakers game from November this season that closed at 239.5. — Abrams

Mears: How I’m Betting Tonight’s Game

Talk about storylines; this one has ‘em all. The Lakers and Pelicans ended up not making a trade for Davis, and both teams have had odd weeks since that non-eventful trade deadline. Davis is now playing just 20-ish minutes per game, and LeBron is actively calling out teammates after every loss.

These teams just played a couple days ago, and the Pelicans won without Anthony Davis, 128-115. The Lakers actually posted a 60.5% effective field goal rate (87th percentile), specifically shooting 76.5% at the rim. The main issue was turnovers and rebounding, and nearly every player on the roster was at fault.

This game is so difficult to handicap: The Lakers have talent and all the motivation in the world right now, as they currently sit tied for 10th in the Western Conference standings, three games back of the Spurs for the No. 8 seed.

And yet, their play has been horrendous just when they’ve needed to be at their best. Over the last six weeks, they’ve gone 4-10 straight up, posting a miserable -9.3 point differential (29th in the NBA) in the process.

They’ve been bad everywhere: They rank 22nd on offense and 27th on defense during that time frame. The Pelicans, unfortunately, haven’t been much better, sitting 19th in point differential with a 6-10 record during that span. Davis is unlikely to play heavy minutes in this one.

If you want to bet on this game, it really comes down to whether you think James will activate his “playoff mode,” which is the most popular topic on NBA Twitter. If you think he will, there’s likely value on the Lakers.

If not — and I’m probably in that camp, because why would he tonight if he didn’t last game? — there could be value on the Pels. Overall, though, I’ll probably stay away from these dumpster-fire situations given the massive uncertainty.

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.