The Los Angeles Lakers are on the verge of dropping 50 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history, yet NBA basketball handicappers are still recommending them for sports picks.
And they should be, since head coach Byron Scott has struck a nerve with his team to play more competitively than they were earlier in the season. Of course haters will say the Lakers opponents are not taking them seriously which is why the outcomes as closer than expected.
I’ll choose to give the guys that are now second-fiddle in LaLa Land the benefit of the doubt and besides, when breaking down the NBA betting odds like in this contest, it is about being correct with your NBA picks!
Here all the latest on the Lakers and Utah.
Jazz Try to Get Back in Tune in L.A.
Utah (30-37, 37-29-1 ATS) saw their six-game winning streak come to an end versus Washington last night, 88-84 as three-point home favorites. The Jazz had their chances, taking 19 more shots than the Wizards, but their defense failed them, as Washington connected on 52.4 percent.
Nonetheless, Utah has been one of the best teams in the league since the All-Star break at 11-3 (9-5 ATS). Coach Quinn Snyder has found the right combinations led by Gordon Hayward (19.7 PPG), Derrick Favors (16.3) and Rudy Gobert (7.6).
What you notice about the Jazz is when they control the tempo, play defense with an attitude and hit the glass, they are definitely a team you want to choose against the NBA betting odds.
Utah is favored in this matchup and they are 7-26 on the road with a 17-15-1 ATS mark. This will be just the second time this campaign they will be an away favorite.
Los Angeles Not Winning, but Beating the Odds
Thus far in March, the Lakers (17-49, 33-29-4 ATS) have only one victory, yet they are extreme Play On material at 7-2 ATS. Coach Scott has this club taking the first step in term of effort and while he uses the tough guy mentality - "There are no moral victories," Scott said. "We've been playing a lot of teams (close)." – he’s been around the NBA a long time and understands what kind of talent he has to coach and he’s getting the most out of it.
What would be rewarding to the players and coaches is going to the next plateau and in the second half do the little things, like boxing out and not allowing an offensive rebound or hedging a half second quicker on defense to prevent a drive to the basket.
The Lakers are proving they can compete and should have the opportunity for an upset at home. L.A. is 10-23 at Staples Center, with a 16-14-3 ATS record.
Betting Odds and Head to Head
Utah opened as a four-point favorite according to sportbooks, was lowered to -3.5 and later shot up to -4.5. The original total of 183 has sunk to 181.5.
The teams have split the first two contests both SU and ATS, but this will be the first in SoCal. The Lakers are 2-2 SU and ATS vs. the Jazz at home the last couple seasons.
With their loss last evening, Utah tries to start another winning streak tonight. The Jazz hope they can win otherwise a three-game losing streak is a distinct possibility having to travel to Golden State on Saturday. After the Warriors, Utah has home games with Minnesota and Portland. Utah is 7-8 SU and ATS with no rest, with a point differential of -2.8.
The Lakers will be off until Sunday when Philadelphia pays a visit. From there, Los Angeles will embark on a five-game road trip starting in Oklahoma City and Minnesota, beginning next Tuesday. Having played Golden State to a three-point decision on Monday, L.A. is 2-7 and 6-2-1 ATS with two days off, losing by 6.2 PPG.
I like the competitive fire in which the Lakers are playing, but Utah is playing with more purpose and off their previous setback to Los Angeles at home, the Jazz are a sweet-sounding 17-3 ATS on the road playing into revenge.
NBA Basketball Free Pick – Utah -4.5 at 5Dimes