The New Orleans Pelicans travel to Los Angeles to face off against the LeBron James-led Lakers Friday in a game that’s sure to be exciting. The last time these two faced off, the Lakers edged out a 114-110 win, with Anthony Davis dropping 41 points to secure the victory.
The Pelicans are still without rookie phenom Zion Williamson, but Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will be looking to steal this one from their former team. The Lakers are currently 11.5-point favorites, with the over/under set at 226.5. The line is slightly surprising considering the last time these teams played, it ended in just a four-point difference, so how do we pick this one?
Getting Warmed Up
New Orleans came into the season having drafted the most sought-after college basketball player in recent history. Unfortunately, Williamson was sidelined before the last preseason game after finding out he needed surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus.
This left the Pelicans without a prolific scorer and rebounder, and they started their season out in a slump. Since then, Ingram and Jrue Holiday have stepped up, as Ingram is the team’s top scorer, averaging 25.3 points per game, and Holiday leads the team with 6.5 assists per game.
Although the Pelicans’ record (11-23) isn’t much to write home about, they have been on fire recently. Coming off four straight wins against playoff-caliber teams (Portland, Denver, Indiana, Houston), New Orleans will look to add Los Angeles to that list.
Against the spread, the Pelicans have been nearly perfect recently, going 5-1 in their last six games. If you need any more reason to side towards New Orleans, the Pelicans are 6-2 ATS in their last eight against Los Angeles.
Quest To Be The Best
The Lakers have returned to championship form this year after a blockbuster trade to bring prolific big man Davis over from the Pelicans. Los Angeles sits as the top team in the West with a pretty comfortable lead, though a win against the Pelicans would push them even further out of Denver’s reach.
James has a strong supporting cast, with Davis leading the team in scoring (27.3 ppg) and James leading the team in assists per game (10.9). This is a Lakers team that not long ago was considered one of the worst in the league and, after only two years with James, is considered one of the best.
As great as their record is, though, the Lakers have been awful against the spread lately, with a record of 2-7 in their last nine. It seems as if when the Lakers are more than 10-point favorites, they can’t seem to cover.
A good example of this was the Lakers’ most recent game against the Phoenix Suns. Los Angeles was favored by 11 points and was only able to win by 10. Although there is no argument about the Lakers being one of the best teams in the league, they aren’t one of the best teams when it comes to covering spreads.
Pick and Prediction
Most people are writing the Pelicans off already because they don’t believe that New Orleans offense can keep up with the high-flying Lake Show. What some people fail to realize is that both teams have top-10 offenses, with the Lakers just two spots ahead of the Pelicans.
The Pelicans also have the advantage from the perimeter, something that will come in handy against a strong Los Angeles interior defense. New Orleans has the hot hand right now, and, after it has beaten some of the league’s best teams, you can’t deny this team’s tenacity.
The Lakers are a great basketball team and easily one of the frontrunners for the NBA Finals. The problem I have with Los Angeles is its lackluster record against the spread. With the Pelicans being spotted 11.5 points, it only makes sense to take New Orleans in this one.