Just a few short years ago, this was an anticipated matchup several times a season, but not this year. Since 1999, these two Western Conference teams have been to the NBA Finals 12 times, taking home the hardware on nine occasions. While San Antonio continues to be an elite franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers are no longer and while a Buss is still in charge of the team, the matriarch, Jerry, has passed the Clippers are the new kings of L.A. basketball. The way the Lakers are playing are they even worth consideration in making NBA picks, let’s delve in to understand.
The Lakers are Terrible
This is not a newsflash but given the history of the franchise, those words have not come up often. Despite a 22-44 record, Los Angeles has been a profitable team for those making sports picks with 34-30-2 ATS record, yet it is becoming increasingly harder to back the Lakers given their defensive mindset or lack their off.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni might be an offensive innovator, but the teams he coached have always been lacking on the defensive end and being a presumed lame duck coach, the amount of effort needed to play defense is unquestionably lacking.
Since holding Boston to 92 points on Feb. 21, the Lakers have surrendered an average of 120.9 points per game in their last 11 outings. This has created a two-fold problem for those setting the betting odds, trying to set a reasonable number on L.A. as underdogs and trying to adjust the total accurately.
While not as pathetic as many of his teammates, Pau Gasol has done his best to rise above the drowning pool. While his teammates Kobe Bryant has played just six times and Steve Nash hobbled to make it to 10, Gasol has been a pillar of health on this team, making it through 56 contests.
At 33, Gasol will be a free agent in July and will be looking to play with a contender and even if he wanted to return, the Lakers have Bryant’s and Nash’s huge contracts that will strangle the franchise.
In tonight’s contest, Los Angeles will attempt to show pride, having lost to San Antonio by 34 points last Friday, their worst loss to the Spurs in 76 prior meetings.
The Lakers are a modestly profitable 10-8-1 ATS as home underdog and NBA basketball handicappers are aware the gold and purple are 5-2 ATS when playing with three or more days rest this season.
Spurs Sprinting to the
While almost all of the top teams in NBA have been floundering, San Antonio has been going about their business like usual in winning 10 in a row (7-3 ATS) and 13 of 14, to not only become the top team in the West, but have the best record in the NBA period at 50-16.
After fighting through a series of injuries, the Spurs are healthy once again and have turned up the defensive intensity in holding opposing teams to 95.6 PPG in their past six outings.
Besides the improved defense, coach Greg Popovich has designed unique offensive concepts to free up the paint and create space for his three-point shooters.
San Antonio’s ball movement is unparalleled in the NBA and since they have drafted the kind of players that fit their offensive system, they convert at the highest rate behind the arc the Association at 40 percent.
This type of spacing also creates space inside the arc for skilled drivers like Tony Parker and others and the Spurs are still fourth in the NBA in points scored for two point baskets at 64.1 per contest.
Betting Odds and
Every San Antonio player expects the Lakers best shot tonight, after they beatdown they handed them at home. The Spurs opened as 13.5-point favorites according to sportsbooks. The total of 222 did not last long and shot up to 224. San Antonio is a sensational 21-5 and 16-10 ATS as away favorites.
Parker and friends continue their western swing with games at Sacramento and Golden State in the coming days before returning home to face floundering Philadelphia.
The Lakers will continue their homestand with three games against Eastern teams Washington, Orlando and New York, all spaced one day apart.
Head to Head Meetings
The Spurs have been running Los Angeles ragged with a 10-2 and 8-4 ATS mark the past three years, which includes a 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS mark at the Staples Center.
My spread information goes back to 1996, but figure it has been at least 20 years since the Lakers have been this large of a home underdog to San Antonio.
It seems so easy to back the Spurs here, but I’ll go the other way, thinking San Antonio is coming off a win over Utah in which they shot 62.8 percent and the Lakers are off back to back games making less than 40 percent of their shot attempts and events even out, giving L.A. the cover.
NBA Free Pick – Lakers plus the points
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