The New Orleans Pelicans haven’t been on the road that much in the early part of the season. They’ll more than make up for it over the next few weeks. The Pels were to open a seven-game road trip in Dallas on Monday, but that game was postponed due to COVID concerns. So, they headed to SoCal to take on the two Western Conference favorites. They finish off their stay in LA with a matchup against the West leading Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night in the second of what is now a six-game roadie.
The contest between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers takes place at 10 p.m. ET on Friday, January 15, 2021, from Staples Center in Los Angeles and will air live on ESPN. BookMaker.eu will have odds for every game on the Friday NBA schedule.
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Every team must scheme for COVID as the NBA navigates through its season with an uptick in positive tests. The Pels became a victim, though not of their doing when a game with Dallas earlier in the week was postponed. Abruptly shifting gears the club instead headed to the West Coast to open a lengthy road trip. And it’s probably a good thing since New Orleans lost the last three games of a recent four-game home stand blowing a late lead each time. The Pels ended that run going 0-3 ATS. They also fell below .500 for the first time this season ending the week at 4-5 SU and 3-6 ATS. They are just 2-2 SU and ATS on the road before the trip began. While the Pelicans got a few extra days off the Lakers will finish a stretch of six games in nine days with their third contest in the last four nights. That’s a lot of basketball in a short period of time. Still the Lakers own the best record in the Western Conference at 8-3 while going 5-6 ATS. They are just 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS at home, though.
New Orleans Pelicans
As long as the players involved remain in place matchups between these teams will always have the Anthony Davis trade headline. Dealing AD prior to last season for a major haul changed the direction of both franchises. We know how it worked for the Lakers, now the Pelicans are trying to turn the corner. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are all playing a key role this season, and the spot vacated by Davis has been turned over to Zion Williamson.
The young core is talented, but they haven’t learned how to finish games. The Pels dropped the final three games of a recent home stand when holding late leads. The most agonizing of the trio came against Indiana when the Pels had a six-point advantage with less than 30 seconds remaining. The Pacers tied it in regulation and prevailed 118-116 in overtime.
The offense has started to come around after a slow start to the season. The Pels scored at least 110 points in five straight games averaging nearly 114 points in that span. Ingram is averaging 24 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists while Williamson scores 21.9 points with 8.1 boards a night.
Los Angeles Lakers
Those who say defense doesn’t exist in today’s NBA didn’t watch the Lakers closely last season. They won their 17th NBA title with the help of a smothering defense, and when that part of the game is missing players speak out. Following a 118-109 loss to San Antonio last week when the Spurs made 46 percent of their three-pointers, AD said the Lakers have no chance of repeating if they continue to play like that. Davis missed the next game, a 117-115 win over Chicago, but returned to supply the defensive presence the team had been missing.
Davis scored 27 points on 9 of 12 shooting and sparked the defensive effort with three blocks in a 120-102 win over Houston. Once again the Lakers are one of the most efficient defensive clubs holding teams to just over 106 points per game while allowing them to shoot just 34.7 percent from behind the arc. That’s also led to the UNDER cashing in eight of their last nine games.
Led by Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers can still fill it up. James averages a team-best 24.0 points with 8.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists. AD tosses in 22.9 points per night on 54.7 percent shooting while hauling in 8.6 boards. And they get enough from the rest of the roster with five other players averaging between 8.1 and 14.3 points per game.
NBA Odds Pick
I like the squad New Orleans has with a mixture of youth and veterans like Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams and J.J. Redick. When they figure out how to close games they’ll be dangerous. They do lack depth, which is something the Lakers have an abundance of. I don’t see the Pels stopping LeBron and AD, who will again be the difference in a Lakers victory.
NBA Odds Prediction: Lakers 117, Pelicans 110
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