Lakers continue their quest for a third consecutive NBA title this afternoon
when the host the New Orleans Hornets in Game 1 of their Western Conference
NBA odds makers have set the LA Lakers as-10 point favorites with the
total at 182 ½.
The Los Angeles Lakers swept
the season series from the Hornets going 3-1 ATS in the process and are a 5/2
favorite to break out the brooms in this series. This best-of-seven would have
been tough enough for the Hornets, even with a healthy David West. Now that
he's out for the rest of the year, New Orleans could face a quick exit at the
hands of the defending champs.
If you backed LA
this season then you know this team had more ups and downs than a busy
elevator. The Lakers were arguably the streakiest team in the NBA going
17-1(12-5 ATS) out of the All-Star break only to lose five straight and then
rebounding to win their final two regular season games.
They should win this series and maybe even
sweep it. But then again we’re talking about the Lakers the most schizophrenic
team in the league.
Orleans Hornets (46-36 SU & 39-41-2 ATS)
The New Orleans Hornets enter the series with question
marks surrounding Chris Paul, who recently had his knee drained of fluid and
was held scoreless for the first time in his career. However New Orleans’ best
hope of advancing rests on the performance of Paul whose scoring average of
15.8 this season is the lowest of his career. With West sidelined, Emeka Okafor
and Carl Landry will need to raise their respective games to another level for
New Orleans to have a shot.
The Hornets ranked 27th in the league in
scoring (94.9) but averaged just over 85 points per game in their final three
outings. Defense is New Orleans calling card. They were fifth during the
regular (94.0) and can frustrate opponents with their grinding half-court style
Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 SU & 39-42-1 ATS)
It’s fair to say
that the Lakers owned the Hornets
during their regular season match-ups, sweeping all four games. They averaged
101.8 points per game and had a 10.8 point average margin of victory.
While Paul provides
a matchup problem for the Lakers at point guard, LA has a decided advantage
everywhere else. This is particularly true up front, where Pau Gasol, Andrew
Bynum and Lamar Odom together averaged 51.8 points and 25.6 rebounds per game
against the Hornets this year while Gasol averaged a double-double for the
season (18.8 ppg. 10.2 RPG.). Kobe Bryant (25.3 ppg) just needs to be himself
in the series and make sure the ball finds its way inside
LA has great
balance on offense and defense. They were ninth in scoring (101.5) and eighth
in defense (95.4).
Much Too Early
The series tips off
on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 PT and while that’s not early for most people it’s still sleepy time for
some of us including the Lakers. As evidenced by their record, Kobe Bryant and company
don’t do their best work early in the day. Three times they've played at
Staples Center at 12:30 and three times they’ve lost.
The two teams were
a combined 36 games to the ‘under’ this season. The Hornets went 51-31
including 26-15 to low side on the road while LA was 49-33-1 and 24-17 at home
to the ‘under’.
Be forewarned. The
Lakers were one of the worst ATS bets
in the league at home going 16-25 vs. the number at home.
LA is listed at or
near -2100 to win the opening round series while New Orleans is priced at
+1250. The Lakers are -140 to win the Western Conference and +185 to “3-peat”
as NBA champions.
The Lakers will
host Game 2 at Staples, then the series shifts to New Orleans for Games 3 and
Game 2: Wednesday April 20, 10:30 PM. ET, TNT
Game 3: Friday April 22, 9:30 PM. ET, ESPN
Game 4: Sunday April 24, 9:30 PM. ET, TNT
*Tuesday April 26, TBD, TBD
*Thursday April 28, TBD, TBD
*Saturday April 30, TBD, TNT
Take: It’s the Lakers in a Game 1 rout.