Indiana Pacers vs Los Angeles Lakers

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Indiana Pacers (16-19) and Los Angeles Lakers were afforded an extra day off for the All-Star Break as they resume their seasons tonight at the Staples Center. The extra day probably benefited the Lakers the most, as it gave an extra day of recovery for LeBron James (ankle) and Alex Caruso (neck). The Pacers enter the second half of the season at full strength.

Indiana limped to the end of the first half, losing five of their last six games prior to the All-Star Break. The final game of the first half was a 113-103 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Myles Turner led the way with 22 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for the Pacers, while Domantas Sabonis recorded a 10 point, 10 rebound, and 10 assist triple-double. Indiana fell behind early in the first half, but tied it at 68 in the third quarter. Denver made a 14-6 run to close the third, and a 12-0 run midway through the fourth to seal the win.

The Lakers struggled late in the first half as well, winning just two of their last eight before the All-Star Break. Part of the struggles could be attributed to the loss of Anthony Davis, who has been sidelined with tendinosis and a calf strain. He has already been ruled out for tonight’s game. LeBron James sat out the final game of the first half to rest a slightly injured ankle. That was a 123-120 loss to the Sacramento Kings. Dennis Schroder led the Lakers with 28 points, while Montrezl Harrell added 26 points and Kyle Kuzma chipped in 25.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams this year. Right before the All-Star Break, the Pacers played four consecutive games on the road, going 1-3. They will start the second half with three consecutive Western Conference road games.

Pacers Very Much In Playoff Contention

The Indiana Pacers didn’t benefit as they imagined as the third team in the James Harden blockbuster. They received Caris LeVert from the Nets, but his physical revealed a mass on his left kidney. He is much closer to returning to the lineup, and will be a third offensive creator along with Malcolm Brogdan and Domantas Sabonis. That gives the Pacers some hope, but first they must contend with LeBron James and the loaded Los Angeles Lakers.

Leading the way for the Pacers has been Sabonis and Brogdon. Sabonis has averaged 20.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, and 6.0 apg. Brogdon has averaged 21.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 6.2 apg. Doug McDermott, a 36.4% three point shooter, has averaged 13.2 ppg and 4.0 rpg.

Offensively, the Pacers are 13th in the NBA in effective field goal percentage (54.1%), 13th in turnover percentage (12.3%), 24th in offensive rebounding percentage (19.6%), and 19th in free throws per field goal attempts (.184). Defensively, Indiana is 14th in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (53.8%), sixth in opponent turnover percentage (13.7%), 23rd in defensive rebounding percentage (76.9%), and 19th in opponent’s free throws per field goal attempts (.202).

LeBron and the Lakers Prepare for Stretch Run

The Los Angeles Lakers start the second half of the season in third place in the Western Conference, 3.5 games behind the Jazz and one game behind the Suns. Los Angeles is in no danger of falling out of playoff contention with LeBron James leading the way, but an extended absence by Anthony Davis could put the team in an unfavorable first and second-round matchup in the playoffs. For now, however, James is rested and ready to lead his Lakers.

James has averaged 25.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 7.8 apg as he remains on top of his game. Dennis Schroder enjoyed a solid first half, averaging 14.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 4.5 apg. Montrezl Harrell, who replaced Davis as starter, has averaged 13.8 ppg and 6.4 rpg while averaging 24.1 minutes per game.

As a team, the Lakers have an effective field goal percentage of 54.3%, 10th in the league. Los Angeles is 25th in the league in turnover percentage (13.5%), 13th in offensive rebounding percentage (23.2%) and 11th in free throws per field goal attempts (.195). Defensively, the Lakers are fourth in the NBA in opponents effective field goal percentage (51.9%), 12th in opponent turnover percentage (13.1%), first in defensive rebound percentage (80.1%), and fifth in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.165).

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

When LeBron says he is locked in, as he did in this ESPN article, you might want to pay attention. He may be older, but he’s still one of the most dominant performers in the game and elevates those around him. I look for the Lakers to get off to a good second half start with a rested James. But the other reason I like Los Angeles here is their defense. As one of the most efficient defensive teams, the Lakers will have to only contend with two creators on offense in Brogdon and Sabonis. Look for Indiana to have some offensive struggles in this one, which should give the Lakers a comfortable win. I’m taking Los Angeles and giving the points.

Los Angeles -4.5

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Full-Game Total Pick

Without Anthony Davis, the Lakers totals trended strongly toward the UNDER in their final 10 games prior to the All-Star Break. The Pacers are also not one of the more prolific offensive teams in the NBA. That being said, this line is ridiculously low, which in my mind gives the OVER an outstanding chance here, especially with a fresh LeBron James.

OVER 217.5