Washington Wizards (-7) at Los Angeles Lakers
The Wizards tied a franchise record winning its first three games in a row after a 109-104 victory at the Nuggets on Monday. One more will match the 1978-79 Bullets for the second-best start. That team, led by Elvin Hayes, made it to the NBA Finals and was built much like head coach Scott Brooks’ current mix of starpower and seasoned veterans. In fact, every Washington team to begin 3-0 made it to the postseason.
Since 2012, the Wiz are 8-2 SU and 5-3-2 ATS versus the Lakers, tipping off -5.2 points on average. L.A. struggles to slow Washington offensively in this span. Averaging 108.1 points per game, the squad has exceeded its team total in all but three contests.
If Washington is to guarantee a win, they need to tighten up on defense—all over the court. It’s 40.7 opponent 3-point percentage ranks near the bottom of the league, allowing 11.0 per game from behind the arc. A smallish frontcourt comprised of Otto Porter (6-foot-8), Kelly Oubre, Jr. (6-foot-7), and Marcin Gortat (6-foot-11) is gifting 18.7 second-chance points per game, second worst in the NBA.
The Lakers, too, need help defensively, particularly in transition and in the paint. They allow 14.0 points per game on the break (24th in the NBA) and 55.3 around the rim (29th). Like the Wiz, gobbling up rebounds is an issue. L.A. has just 24 second-chance points through three games and is losing the battle on the boards by 6.3 per tilt.
The key matchup in the contest will be John Wall vs. Lonzo Ball. Ball is fifth in the league with 8.7 assists per game. The No. 2 overall pick, who was the subject of some pregame Twitter beef between his father LaVar and Wiz center Gortat, will be in the Wall’s crosshairs. The Washington point guard, arguably the fastest in the league, is the first All-Star at his position to challenge Ball. Expect the Lakers rookie to play deep in the offensive zone and drive little, as to transition easier to defense. Wall averages 27.1 points and 13 assists on 52.0 percent shooting in his last nine games versus the Lakers.
Brooks isn’t shy about impressing his style on other teams, no matter the competition. The Lakers can score in bunches, and this will be an up-and-down affair, as evident by a 229 total opener. L.A. leads the NBA with a 109 pace rating, while the Wiz rank in the top half with a 101.7 mark. The over/under is the highest for a Wiz game since Brooks took over in 2016. The ‘over’ is 11-3 when Washington tips off with a total higher than 220 under his guidance.
Since 1995, the Wiz are 13-5 and 12-6 ATS as away chalk coming off a road dog win. They have never lost a game laying 3.5 points or more in this spot, going 9-0 and 8-1 ATS at a -6.6 average line. Washington’s starting five is just too much to handle for the young Lakers, each averaging double figures to begin the year. The seasoned group will take care of business here and win by 10 points or more. Lay the 7 points on Washington. Check out the live SBR Sportsbook Review Youtube channel for more info on this anticipated matchup. Many of our handicappers will have a say.