Pelicans vs. Lakers Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Finding Value in Zion vs. LeBron
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: A close up shot of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers
- Updated Lakers vs. Pelicans odds list Los Angeles as a 7.5-point favorite, with the over/under at 239.
- This will be the first meeting between rookie Zion Williamson and LeBron James. The upstart Pelicans have been much better on defense since Zion debuted last month.
- See our Lakers vs. Pelicans betting picks below.
Pelicans at Lakers Odds, Betting Picks & Predictions
- Spread: Lakers -7.5
- Over/Under: 239
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
- TV: TNT
Zion vs. LeBron and AD.
It doesn’t get more star-studded than that. Will Zion grab the torch early or will LeBron and Co. show the upstart Pels that the Lakers are indeed the West’s best? Our experts break it all down below.
Betting Trends to Know
At the time of writing, 51% of spread tickets are on the Pelicans +7.5 at Lakers. This would be just the sixth time this season that LeBron and Co. have not received a majority of bets. In the previous five games, L.A. went 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS. — John Ewing
Sharp Action Report
Fifty-three percent of bets are hitting the Pelicans, but the percentage of real money wagered, combined with The Action Network’s proprietary betting tools, show wiseguy action continually hitting one side of this spread.
While a very slight majority is taking New Orleans and the points, those tickets account for 67% of the money wagered, which tells us that the bigger bets are backing Zion tonight.
In addition, Sports Insights’ Bet Signals triggered a Steam Move at Pelicans +8, marking a specific instance in which money from respected bettors hit the market and forced oddsmakers to adjust.
Sharp angle: Pelicans (moved from +8 to +7.5)
Moore: Buy Bucks on Back-to-Back?
The Lakers are 6-2 ATS this season vs. teams with an Offensive Rating above 108 and a Defensive Rating above 108. If you make it easy for their offense, they’re just going to carve you to pieces. I think Zion Williamson probably goes off in this matchup; Anthony Davis is going to get knocked back into the stands by a Zion shoulder.
But L.A.’s offense isn’t as pedestrian as a lot of the analysis suggests, and the Pelicans struggle with both defending the point of attack in pick-and-rolls and spot-up shots. The Lakers are third in points created off turnovers; the Pelicans are second-worst in giving them up per 100 possessions.
Speaking of, both teams are top-five in transition points allowed per 100 possessions. I think the over actually has value here.
THE PICK: Lakers -7.5, over 239
Mears: How I’m Betting Tonight’s Game
OK, let’s let the market talk for us a bit here. This line opened at Lakers -8.5. These teams played in early January in L.A. — which is where the game is today — and the only real difference was that the Pels were missing some players in Zion Williamson, Nicolo Melli, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and others.
That line close at Lakers -10.5.
So what the market is saying is that with the addition of those players, with Zion obviously the biggest domino, that the difference is only 1.5 points. I’m not sure I agree with that at all.
Here are the Pelicans splits BZ (Before Zion) and AZ (After Zion)…
- Pelicans BZ: -1.7 Net Rating (18th), 110.8 ORtg (13th), 112.5 DRtg (24th)
- Pelicans AZ: +6.6 Net Rating (5th), 116.7 ORtg (6th), 110.1 DRtg (10th)
Diving deeper, the starting unit with Zion now in has a fairly decent sample size together now, and it’s dominated, posting a +23.2 Net Rating. It’s scored 116.3 points/100 and allowed just 93.2 points/100. All lineups with Zion — a sample size of nearly 750 possessions at this point — have posted a +12.6 Net Rating.
We’re still very early into his career, I get it. But it was thought he might be a generational prospect, and so far he’s consistently made a huge on-court impact on the Pelicans — on both sides of the ball.
Let’s also look at the over/under here. In that January game, it closed at 225.5 and finished at 236, easily hitting the over. So for this one, they opened it at 238.5 and it’s now up at 239.5. And it seems like it’s sharp money, as that movement has occurred despite 66% of the bets and 65% of the total money wagered coming in on the under.
I thought that over/under was a bit of a overreaction so I bet the under, but with the sharp money coming in on the over, I would probably recommend staying away. I think this falls under, but I also respect sharp money.
The reason I like the under is because the Lakers are one of the best teams at protecting the rim, and that’s where Zion and Co. really like to operate. Since he debuted in late January, they’ve been second in the league in frequency of shots at the rim at 42.0%. On the season, the Lakers have had a top-six mark in opponent FG% at that location.
I don’t think the pace should change much from where we’ve seen these teams, and the Lakers have often dictated that dynamic. The Pels will try to run, but the Lakers might prefer to make this more of a halfcourt affair. Further, Zion’s presence has really contributed to the Pelicans playing excellent defense of late — it’s been perhaps the biggest change to the team.
Again, I would stay away given the sharp money, but my personal handicapping of this game led me to the under and the Pels +8.
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.