Free NBA Pick: Wizards to Stymie Lakers in L.A. Tonight

Jay Pryce

Sunday, March 27, 2016 5:50 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 27, 2016 5:50 PM UTC

The Wizards and Lakers engage in the NBA nightcap on Sunday (9:30 p.m. ET), Washington desperate to gain traction in the playoff race. What's the play? Game analysis and NBA pick inside.

Washington Wizards (35-37 SU, 36-36 ATS)
As of Saturday, the Wizards sit 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the East. With 10 contests left, their uphill climb to reach the postseason was made particularly steeper by NBA schedule makers, as they embark on a five-game West Coast road swing in L.A. tonight.

Washington hopes to avenge a shocking 108-104 defeat as 10-point chalk to the Lakers the last time these two met in December in the nation's capital. Kobe Bryant dropped 31 points, tied for his second-highest tally on the season, and the visitors took advantage of 12 first-half Wizards turnovers to score 22 points in the upset. Washington gave the rock away 23 times overall, third most on the year for the usually sure-handed team.

Since the All-Star weekend, coach Randy Wittman has made team defense a greater priority, and it shows. It's giving up 102.7 points on 45.3 percent shooting per game, a nice-sized improvement over the 105.4 on 47.1 from the field prior. Despite allowing 118.7 points per game in its last three, including a 132-129 double-overtime defeat to the Timberwolves on Friday, the defense is still the NBA's sixth most efficient over the last five games with 100.6 points yielded per 100 possessions.

The Wiz are a perfect 6-0 (4-2 ATS) as road chalk this season with the defense taking center stage. It has held five of six home dogs below their team total in all but one by an average of 5.5 points.


Los Angeles Lakers (15-57 SU, 32-39-1 ATS)
L.A. doesn't have much to play for, expect pride and a chance at the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Only the lowly 76ers have fewer wins (nine) then its 15 this season. The team has done well for bettors in certain spots, though. The Lakers are 16-11 ATS against the weaker Eastern Conference, for example, matching their number of covers versus West teams in less than half the matchups.

Keep a lookout on Bryant's status. He's expected to grind it out and play in all of his final games, We've made a mint playing the UNDER when the future Hall of Famer is out of the lineup, though. Its gone 15-1 on the season, and we picked up on the trend weeks ago. Its a situation where the Lakers improve significantly on defense, but lose offensive prowess with its leading scorer absent (17.1 ppg). In 16 contests Bryant has failed to register playing time, L.A. Averages 92.2 points and yields 100.7 versus 99.8 and 108.6 when in the lineup. When seeing minutes, bettors may want to shade the OVER, which has gone 31-22-3.

L.A. Is pretty bad on both ends of the court, but strong defense tends to help it beat the number more often than having a hot shooting night. Allowing 106.8 points per game, the team defense is particularly bad around the rim, yielding the league's most points in the paint with 47.6 per game. Washington does most of its damage on the perimeter with guards John Wall (20.1 ppg) and Bradley Beal (17.7 ppg) leading the visitors in scoring. The Wiz put in 41.2 per game from the paint (22nd in the NBA), accounting for 38.9 percent of their points. When L.A. Squares off against foes getting 40 percent or less of their points from the danger zone, it allows 104 points as opposed to 108 with a higher rate, going 13-8-1 ATS versus 19-30 ATS. For what it's worth, Bryant has played in all but three of the former.


Final Analysis
D' Angelo Russell is doubtful to play after rolling his ankle in the last game, and this affects the NBA Odds. Veteran journeyman Lou Williams will likely get the start at the point. Williams isn't as creative, nor offers as much defense, but is a more polished shooter. The Wiz will want to get this road trip off on the right note, and will score well over the century mark. But can the Lakers keep up? I have my doubts. The total is a little to steep here. UNDER 213.5 is the NBA Pick.

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Free NBA Pick:  Under 213½ -105
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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