Indiana Pacers (34-9 SU, 28-15 ATS)
The Pacers boast the top ranked defense in the NBA but that was not in evidence Saturday night when they were crushed by the Denver Nuggets 109-96 as two-point road favorites in NBA odds. Lance Stephenson led the way for Indiana with 23 points but it was not enough to overcome their road fatigue after rallying past the Kings in overtime the night before. Uncharacteristically slow starts caused Indiana to stumble against the Kings and the Nuggets but they will have to return to their suffocating defense if they are to wrap up this five-game road trip in winning fashion.
If there is one common denominator over the past three games that has given them problems it would be their lack of defending shots from beyond the arc. The Pacers have allowed 31 treys over the last three games with opponents draining the long ball at a 45.6% clip. Young gun Paul George stumbled in the team’s latest setback after averaging over 29 points per game on 54 percent shooting in his prior six games when he buried only 6 of 18 and whiffed on all four three-point attempts against Denver.
Take a look at our NBA Picks of the Day for more insight into tonight's matchups.
Los Angeles Lakers (16-29 SU, 24-19-2 ATS)
The Lakers are mired in a four-game skid with their most recent loss coming at Madison Square Garden to the Knicks. LA had no answer for Carmelo Anthony who continued his torrid pace for the Knicks by scorching the Lakers for 35 points en route to a 110-103 loss for the visitors. Point guard Manny Harris contributed a team high 18 points in the losing effort that was caused primarily by a tremendous effort from Anthony but also a losing battle on the boards where New York dropped in 21 second chance points.
The Lakers will try to continue their offensive output as of late where they have scored triple digits over their last eight games, averaging 107.6 points per game. Bettors might be curious to note that the Lakers have been among the hottest shooting first-half teams, averaging over 54 points in their last 12 games. Perhaps a wager on the Lakers in the first-half in NBA odds would be advised though the Pacers are among the stingiest defenses in the league. The Lakers continue to work without their two veteran superstars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
Free NBA Pick:
The Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to the Staples Center when facing the Lakers. However, when last these two teams met, it was the Lakers who prevailed 99-93 and covered the all-important number in NBA odds as 8 ½ point road dogs in Indiana on March 13th of last year.
Indiana will no doubt be licking their wounds after failing so miserably in Denver. They have had two nights to recover from playing three road contests in four nights with an overtime battle tossed in for good measure. My knee-jerk reaction before researching this game was to give in to the intuitive premise that a very good team will no doubt be eager to atone for their poor play in their previous game. However, the Lakers are among the hottest scoring teams in the league right now and if it was not for their transparent defense they would be in the midst of a four game win streak instead of mired in a four game slump.
Indiana has been getting the job done this season with an ironclad defense coupled with just enough offense (ranked 20th) to be wildly successful. That being said, I believe the oddsmakers are not giving enough credit to the Lakers who are finally at home after almost two weeks on the road. In my NBA picks for this evening I will grab all those delicious points the offshore books are dealing.NBA Picks: Play the LA Lakers +10 at Bet365.com.