Lakers in Must-Win Territory
The Western Conference play-in standings are incredibly intense right now. It is headlining NBA news and should be, with these final games having massive playoff implications. The Los Angeles Lakers are right in the thick of things, sitting in 10th, and will face the Houston Rockets, the worst team in the West, on Wednesday.
After every game, the Lakers’ NBA playoff odds seem to shift. They beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, 123-108, on the first of a back-to-back behind Anthony Davis’ 35 points. The Rockets pulled off a massive upset over the Boston Celtics on Monday, winning 111-109.
Lakers Hanging on Without James
LeBron James hurt his ankle eight games ago, and it seemed like the Lakers’ playoff hopes were over. They have been bad all season, but after the trade deadline, the team appeared to flip the switch. Los Angeles has gone 9-4 since Feb. 11 and 5-3 without James, which is better than most expected.
Davis is a significant reason for the Lakers not completely dropping out of the play-in race. He has played in seven of the last eight games averaging 27.9 points and 13.7 rebounds. Against the Pelicans, he dominated for 35 points and 17 rebounds.
On top of that, the team is seemingly in a better position to compete. D’Angelo Russell has looked good when healthy, averaging 26 points over the last three games. Since James’s absence, Austin Reaves has also exploded with more minutes, averaging 15 points.
LeBron James, back on the court, taking free throws after shootaround in New Orleans pic.twitter.com/W7N6Vx71sw
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 14, 2023
The team is trending in the right direction and increasing their NBA Finals odds, with James returning from injury sooner than expected. He was on the court warming up before the Lakers faced the Pelicans.
Rockets’ Shocking Win
The worst team in the NBA, the Rockets, was able to upset the Celtics, second in the Eastern Conference standings. The NBA lines were laid at 13 points, making Houston a massive underdog.
However, it had been trending upwards for the Rockets, forcing the Indiana Pacers into overtime and then squandering a lead in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls. Still, beating the Celtics is a massive shock.
Jabari Smith Jr knocked down 5 threes in the win vs the Celtics!
Last 3 Games
24 PTS, 12 REB, 5 3PT (82% FG)
20 PTS, 10 REB, 2 3PT (57% FG)
30 PTS, 12 REB, 3 3PT (53% FG)pic.twitter.com/1cmjmqfEjK
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 14, 2023
A lot of the success over the last three games does start with rookie Jabari Smith Jr. These games have been a testament to why the Rockets selected him third overall. Smith is averaging 24.7 points, and 11 rebounds, shooting 61.4% from the field and 62.5% on 3s. It is not sustainable, but he has not had a stretch like this all season.
On top of that, Jalen Green has started to shine a little more, scoring 28 against the Celtics and averaging 25.2 points over the last five games. He is still shooting a dismal 40.6%, but this also might be one of his better stretches this season.
Lakers vs Rockets Game Injuries
Lakers vs Rockets Head-to-Head
The Lakers and Rockets have played once this season, in a game that ended 140-132 on Jan. 16. James had 48 points to lead a completely different Lakers roster to the win.
Lakers vs Rockets Game Information
- Game: Lakers (34-35) vs Rockets (16-52)
- Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
- Day/Time: Wednesday, March 15th, 8:00 p.m. EST
- Lakers vs Rockets Live Stream: NBA Game Pass
Lakers vs Rockets Betting Lines
Lakers vs Rockets Picks and Prediction
Based on the last game these two teams played, it would make sense to go over the points total for your NBA picks. However, the Lakers’ offense has been less explosive without James, but the defense is improving.
The other thing that could complicate this game is the Rockets’ recent run. Houston is 2-0-1 against the spread (ATS) in the last three games. But the Lakers are 7-3 ATS over their last 10 games. Los Angeles has a better team and is more motivated to win, trying to stay in the play-in conversation. That should be enough to push the Lakers to cover.
The Los Angeles Lakers are listed at -150 in our Vegas NBA lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Lakers, you have a chance to win $67. The Houston Rockets is +130, offering a chance to win $130 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives the Los Angeles Lakers a 60.00% chance to win, with the Houston Rockets at 43.48%.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.
Lakers vs Rockets Trends
Lakers vs Rockets Edge
Lakers vs Rockets Results
Lakers vs Rockets Game Summary
Rockets vs Lakers Previous Game (Jan 16, 2023)
Most of the early NBA betting action has come for the Los Angeles Lakers, who look to end their three-game losing streak against the hapless Houston Rockets.
The Rockets are riding a 10-game losing streak and they’re one of the worst teams in the NBA, but they have the same against the spread record as the Lakers.
It’s a Western Conference game with some intrigue, mostly because of the LeBron James factor.