Another Tuesday, another In-Season Tournament slate, which features five games across the Eastern and Western Conferences. Check out the matchup preview for the Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers, including our prediction, betting picks, and the starting lineups for both teams!
Utah Jazz Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction
Utah has lost back-to-back games (to the Phoenix Suns) by three points, dropping its record to 4-9 on the season. The Jazz have beaten the Grizzlies (twice), the Trail Blazers, and the Clippers; they haven’t beaten a team with a record greater than .500, or anywhere near it, this season. Now, the Jazz will be tasked to head to Crypto.com Arena and grab a win over LeBron James and the 8-6 Los Angeles Lakers. Can they win, or at least keep the game closer than eight points?
Utah probably won’t win, but its odds to keep the game to within eight points are pretty solid. The Jazz are one of the fastest teams in the NBA, ranking ninth in pace, 11th in fastbreak points, and third in fastbreak efficiency. Further, they score the tenth-most points per game, exemplifying their fast-paced play style.
Meanwhile, the Lakers rank just 19th in the NBA in points per game and 26th in 3P%, even with their 22-for-35 three-point performance against Memphis one week ago. Without that game, they have shot just 31.1% from deep, which would stick them at 29th in the NBA, behind only Portland.
The Jazz don’t defend the three-point line well and don’t have much of an answer for LeBron James or Anthony Davis in the paint, but they will make up for what will be an obvious disparity in paint points with perimeter shooting.
Additionally, Utah has only had two games in which it has finished with eight points fewer than the Lakers’ season average and has averaged 127 points in its past four games. The Lakers’ defense is middle-of-the-road (15th in defensive rating) so far this season; any concerns that they will return to playoff form any time soon should be alleviated.
The Lakers will win, but Utah should cover eight points.
Utah Jazz Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction: Jazz +8
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Utah Jazz Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Best Odds
The Los Angeles Lakers are heavy eight-point home favorites to grab another In-Season Tournament Group Play win on Tuesday night against Utah. Los Angeles has Moneyline odds of –325, while the Jazz are +260 to win outright at Crypto.com Arena. Further, the point total rests at 236 points, a sizable amount for an NBA game.
Utah Jazz Starting Lineup
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
Utah Jazz Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Injuries
Los Angeles won’t have point guard Gabe Vincent or power forward Jarred Vanderbilt, two key reserves, for its Tuesday night matchup against Utah. The Jazz have not had many injuries this season except for Walker Kessler, who should return in the next week or two but will not be available for this game.
Utah Jazz Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Key Matchups
The key matchup for this bout belongs to LeBron James and Lauri Markkanen, two stars who have been playing exceptionally well recently. Take a look below and see if either player can slow the other down and which one will lead their team to victory!
LeBron James vs. Lauri Markkanen
At the start of the 2023-24 regular season, it appeared as though LeBron James might be in for a reduced role for the Lake Show, as he played just 29 minutes in the opening night game against Denver; head coach Darvin Ham hinted that might be the norm moving forward in the season.
However, that has hardly been the reality; James has played an average of 35 minutes per game in his past 11 outings, which includes just 27 minutes against Houston and 22 minutes against Memphis. Both of those games were blowouts, with one being in the Lakers’ favor and the other to their detriment.
James’ longevity has been revered for several years now, but his past three games have continued to put his greatness into perspective. In that span, he has posted 33.3 points, 9.7 assists, seven rebounds, and three steals on 64% shooting from the field and 48% from three. “Extraordinary” doesn’t do James justice.
Meanwhile, Lauri Markkanen is having another All-Star-caliber season, averaging 25 points and nine rebounds per game on 49% shooting from the field and 40% from deep; few 7-footers have had the ability to shoot as well as Markkanen.
Still, LeBron’s physicality, lateral and vertical athleticism, and defensive IQ should make life hard on Markkanen. Lauri is a terrific “tough shot-maker,” but James should use his frame to force him into tough spots; he won’t be able to gain a favorable position on James in the half-court and will have to shoot over his length constantly. That’s not an easy task. Advantage: LeBron.