The In-Season Tournament has already proven to be a success story, and as the tournament progresses, we can expect the games to get even more competitive. Take a look at our New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Lakers predictions, betting picks, and current odds below!
New Orleans Pelicans Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction
The game hasn’t even started, and there are already several interesting storylines for the Western Semi-Finals of the In-Season Tournament: the Lakers can’t wear their black jerseys, and Anthony Davis is playing against his former team, New Orleans.
This is going to be a very evenly matched game. The Lakers and Pelicans both have similar styles of play; they score most of their points in the paint (sixth and ninth in the NBA, respectively), play at a similar pace (11th and 12th, respectively), and are middle-of-the-road rebounding teams (16th and 19th, respectively.)
Further, they are below-average three-point shooting teams (29th and 19th) on the few attempts they shoot per game (30th and 27th.)
The concern with backing the Lakers in this spot is that they barely squeaked out a home win against the Phoenix Suns, despite the Suns playing as sloppily as possible offensively and the Lakers being awarded a suspect timeout during a loose ball at the end of the game.
Los Angeles allowed Phoenix to shoot 49.3% from the floor and 48% from three, despite Devin Booker having a rough shooting game; he went 6-for-16 from the field. The Suns beat themselves, committing 20 turnovers, which was more than twice the amount of Los Angeles, and allowing an astonishing 21 offensive rebounds.
Los Angeles also got a huge game from Austin Reaves, who had been struggling mightily over the past few weeks; there are no guarantees that he is fully out of that slump yet, either.
Ultimately, a fully loaded Pels team is one of the best in the league; they are 7-2 when C.J. McCollum plays this season. Put simply, the Pelicans have much more firepower than Los Angeles, better shooting overall, and better three-point defense. McCollum and Trey Murphy III are back, putting this team over the edge. While Anthony Davis should have a big offensive game, especially in the paint, it won’t be enough.
New Orleans Pelicans Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction: Pelicans +2.5 (-110)
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New Orleans Pelicans Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Best Odds
The Los Angeles Lakers are narrow 2.5-point favorites against New Orleans on a neutral court in Las Vegas for the In-Season Tournament semi-finals. Los Angeles is -130 to win the game, while the Pelicans are +110 to pull off an upset. The point total for this matchup stands at 230.5 points, with -110 odds for both the Over and the Under.
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
New Orleans Pelicans Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Injuries
The Los Angeles Lakers’ injury report is fairly clean ahead of Thursday night’s In-Season Tournament semi-finals game; they will continue to be without Gabe Vincent (knee), while LeBron James is questionable with a calf injury. It would be shocking if James didn’t play, though, so proceed as if he will play unless a reliable source states otherwise.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans are as healthy as they have been in a long time, as well. They will be without sharpshooter Matt Ryan (elbow) and Larry Nance Jr. (rib injury), but every other key contributor will be available, including Trey Murphy III, who recently returned from a knee injury.
New Orleans Pelicans Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Key Matchups
Our key matchup of the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers belongs to two of the most explosive athletes in NBA history: LeBron James and Zion Williamson.
LeBron James vs. Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson and LeBron James have only faced off four times in their careers, which has often been due to injuries; however, the games have been exhilarating when they do take the floor.
LeBron has played well in these four games, averaging close to 29 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists per game on 56.1% shooting from the field; Zion is not exactly known for his defense. However, it should be noted that LeBron went 0-for-7 from three in his only matchup last season against Zion and shot just 9-for-23 from the field. For a player who averaged 29 points per game last season, that is a respectable defensive effort.
Meanwhile, Zion has been quite effective himself in games against “The King,” posting roughly 28 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game on 54.1% shooting from the field. Can he outplay James on his way to an IST Finals appearance?
Outplaying James will be tough, especially considering that he has a 4-0 record all-time versus Zion; however, the Pels have the advantage in this spot. As mentioned above, New Orleans has more offensive weapons, especially with Trey Murphy III and C.J. McCollum back in the lineup. Los Angeles barely squeezed by the Suns in the quarterfinals, and now that the Lakers aren’t playing at home, they could struggle even more. Scratch: Zion and LeBron.