The Los Angeles Lakers (39-30) will play host to the Houston Rockets (16-53) Wednesday at Staples Center.
LA, coming off Tuesday night’s overtime win against the Knicks, will be without LeBron James back (sore ankle). Meanwhile, Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso are at risk of missing this game. The Lakers have gotten used to rotating lineups as both of their star players have missed significant time.
While the Rockets have the worst record in the league, they aren’t to be taken lightly. The Rockets have covered the spread in three straight games, including Monday’s loss to the Trail Blazers. Houston has dealt with the worst injury crisis in the league this season which has meant added run for some of its young players. Currently, the Lakers are 13 point favorites in the sportsbook.
Bit of a Stumble Toward Playoffs
The Lakers have stumbled into the closing stages of the regular season. Currently, the seventh seed in the West and most likely headed for the play-in tournament, LA has won six of its last 15 games and is 5-10 ATS during that same span. Since March 20, LeBron has appeared in two games as he continues to rehab from an ankle injury. The defending NBA Champions have a difficult road to get back to the Conference Finals, let alone winning another title.
Combined, Davis and LeBron have missed 61 games. So, a 39-30 record isn’t the end of the world all things considered. At full strength, this Lakers team might be favorites to come out of the West, but staying healthy has been its biggest challenge. Even so, the Lakers have beaten two playoff teams, in the Suns and Knicks, in their last two games. Getting LeBron back will be a huge boost as the Lakers have averaged 111.7 points per game with him and just 105 without him.
Getting close but I won’t be in the lineup tonight but more importantly I will be there to put that CHAMPIONSHIP banner in the rafters at Staples Center in front of our fans!! #No17 💜💛
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 12, 2021
Houston’s Injury Crisis
Houston set a record on Monday for the most players used in an NBA season, with 29.
Trades have contributed to this number but its injury situation has led to a bizarre season. Multiple players on short term contracts and two way deals are getting big minutes as the Rockets close out the season with nearly half their team injured.
F Cameron Oliver made his Rockets debut on Monday, scoring 13 points in the 120-109 loss to the Blazers. F Khyri Thomas, also on a short term deal until the end of the season, has averaged over 20 points per game in three games with Houston.
Rookie F Kenyon Martin Jr. has staked his claim to be in the rotation next season as he has averaged 19.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game on 54.4% shooting in his last eight games
All three of Houston’s best players, in John Wall, Christian Wood, and Eric Gordon are expected to be out. With multiple players trying to prove themselves and earn long-term deals, the Rockets will remain competitive.
Despite giving up 50 points in the first quarter against the Blazers and falling behind by 17, the Rockets managed to outscore the Blazers for the remainder of the game and cover the spread, which they’ve done for three straight games.
While neither team has been a great NBA Betting pick, the Lakers have fared pretty well on the tail end of back-to-back scenarios. LA has covered the spread in seven of 11 such games.
When LeBron has played, the Lakers are 20-22-1 ATS compared to 11-15 ATS when he’s been out.
Lakers sixth man Dennis Schroder has missed the last six games in COVID protocol and will also be out. LA will miss his scoring punch but has a deep roster. But, the Lakers have covered the spread just three of the nine times they’ve been favored by 10 points or more this season.
The Rockets have lost six straight but have been on a solid ATS streak. Houston has allowed a ridiculous 135 points per game in its last four outings. The Lakers have the second-best scoring defense in the league and should be able to contain a Rockets team that is lacking in NBA-level talent. It’s a large spread to cover, but with the return of LeBron and the potential to bypass the play in the tournament, the Lakers are certainly capable of blowing Houston out.