The last two teams to take the court in the second half of this NBA regular season are the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers as they meet Friday in L.A. Which way to lean at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks? Read on for an in-depth analysis and a pick for tonight’s game.
Indiana Pacers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Friday, March 12, 2021 – 10:30 PM EST at Staples Center
It’s our second straight day previewing a game at Staples Center as we looked at Warriors-Clippers on Thursday. Like that game, Pacers-Lakers is the nightcap of a national TV doubleheader, this time on NBA TV.
This is the first meeting of the season between the teams; the Lakers are scheduled to visit Indianapolis on May 15 near the end of the regular season. That one may mean nothing for either club then if playoff seeds are wrapped up (or if the Pacers are eliminated).
Indiana won both meetings last season and both counted as home games – one was at Indianapolis but the other in Orlando. TJ Warren (more on him below) averaged 25.5 points in the two games for the Pacers and Malcolm Brogdon 19.0 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. LeBron James averaged 25.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the two. Anthony Davis played in just one and had eight points. More on him below.
The Lakers lead the all-time series 60-32 and are 37-9 at home – Indiana has dropped its past three in L.A. The Pacers' last road win over the Lakers came on Nov. 29, 2015. They are 0-4-1 against the spread on NBA picks in their past five at Staples Center.
Pacers In Unusual Position For Them
I still believe Indiana (16-19) will make the playoffs even though it wouldn’t be in the Eastern Conference field as things stand. This is the latest instance in a season that the team is below .500 since Indiana had a 39-40 record through 79 games during the 2016-17 regular season.
The Pacers have yet to have TJ Warren – who went nuts in the Orlando bubble last summer – this season. It’s hoped maybe he can return in six weeks or so from a stress fracture in his foot, but that’s no sure thing.
Of course, the Pacers traded one of their best players, guard Victor Oladipo, to Houston for Caris LeVert as an offshoot of the James Harden deal in January, and LeVert has yet to suit up for Indiana after a small cancerous mass was detected on his left kidney during a physical. However, he is on track to play at some point this month potentially. That would be huge. The 26-year-old also hinted at his return on his Instagram this past weekend.
This team has a great frontcourt of Domantas Sabonis (an All-Star) and Myles Turner. Sabonis ranks second in the NBA this season with 25 double-doubles, while Defensive Player of the Year candidate Turner leads the NBA with 111 blocked shots.
The break probably came at a good time for Indiana as it has lost five of six. Friday starts a very tough three-game West Coast trip where the Pacers will also be dogs on the NBA odds in Phoenix and Denver. Indiana is one of three teams in the Eastern Conference with a winning record on the road this season with a 9-8 mark.
Lakers Still Waiting On Davis
The break also came at an opportune time for the Lakers (24-13) as they had lost six of eight entering it with LeBron James wearing down a bit since Anthony Davis went out injured in mid-February. Davis, who is dealing a right calf strain and re-aggravation of right Achilles tendinosis, has done some light shooting but probably is two weeks away from playing.
The Lakers will not rush him and they don’t care about their regular-season record – why they were listed as one of my teams to “fade” in the second half. The Lakers are still favored at betting sites to repeat as NBA champions, albeit now barely over Brooklyn.
At least LeBron got a breather during All-Star Weekend. He improved to 4-0 as a team captain in that event but played only 13 minutes Sunday night. LeBron never really wanted to be in Atlanta. He missed just one game in the first half of the season and played the seventh-most most minutes of any NBA player despite being the third-oldest player in the league.
Turnovers are always important in the NBA, and the Lakers are 11-2 this season when they have fewer turnovers than their opponent. Los Angeles has won nine games this season after trailing by double digits, including two wins when down by at least 20. The last one was vs. Memphis on Feb. 12.
L.A. did make a transactional move this week is re-signing center Damian Jones to a second 10-day contract. Jones has averaged 4.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 10.3 minutes through three games. The Lakers are known to be very interested in Cavs center Andre Drummond if/when he is bought out by Cleveland. Current L.A. center Marc Gasol is sidelined due to COVID protocols.
Neither team has very good ATS trends right now, but Indiana is an almost astonishing 0-8 ATS in its past eight as an underdog. So, we’ll back L.A for our Friday sports betting.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.