Outside of Miami’s 27-game winning streak just a couple of months ago, the Los Angeles Lakers have been the story of the NBA season. Their expensively assembled squad is on the edge of the playoff race in the West, leading Utah by a single game as they head into Wednesday night’s crucial matchup with Houston.
Can the Lakers survive without Kobe Bryant leading the way? Bettors will be keeping a close eye on this matchup as well as the NBA betting odds to see if the Lakers can get one more win to sneak in.
Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles Lakers
Odds: Lakers -3.5
The Rockets have already clinched their ticket to the playoffs but they can still move up to sixth place in the Western Conference standings as they’re a game behind Golden State. Houston actually leads the league in points scored as of Wednesday with 106.1 and with James Harden leading the offense, the Rockets are extremely fun to watch, but most tend to believe that high-paced system doesn’t work in the playoffs. Still, the Rockets are going to be a dangerous out in the postseason and they wouldn’t mind dealing a crippling blow to the Lakers’ playoff chances.
The Lakers have been battered by injuries this season, but losing Kobe Bryant could be a death blow to this storied franchise. But that gives the team a chance to see what they can do without their MVP. In Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have a one-two punch in the post that few teams can deal with….if they can get them both on the same page, which has been a running theme this season when the big men have been on the floor together. Steve Nash is still on the sideline due to an ailing hamstring, which leaves the Lakers with a backcourt of Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks. Blake scored 23 points in the Lakers’ 91-86 win over San Antonio on Sunday, but how many Lakers fans are confident that they can get consistency out of Blake?
Don’t think the Rockets will roll over for the Lakers as they look to improve their place in the Western standings. Houston has actually won four of their last five meetings with the Lakers, and all five of these meetings have been high-scoring affairs as four have finished over the posted total, and the lone under was only three points under. Neither team plays particularly good defense, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if both teams dropped at least 110 points.
Can the Lakers keep that type of scoring up without Bryant in the lineup? As long as they get the ball down to the post to Howard, who has shown flashes of his greatness. The Rockets also don’t have anyone to match up with Gasol, but on the other end, can the Lakers handle Jeremy Lin? Also, keep an eye on the matchup between Harden and Metta World Peace from the Lakers; we all know what the history is there (World Peace’s elbow on Harden when he was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder). On a busy Wednesday night to wrap up the regular season, the Rockets and the Lakers could put on the best show of all at the Staples Center.
With more at stake, take the Lakers on the betting lines.
Pick: Lakers -3.5