Lakers at Pacers Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 3/15/2013
The story here was supposed to be straightforward. The Lakers are playing by far their best ball of the year and have moved into a playoff spot. They travel to play the second best team in the Eastern Conference — though that’s not saying much because the Pacers are still 9.5 games behind the Heat. Still, it was an elite matchup between teams that don’t see each other much and which provided an interesting matchup.
Of course, things rarely turn out how they are supposed to in sports. Thanks to, of all people, Dahntay Jones, the narrative has shifted. Kobe Bryant landed on Jones’ foot on Wednesday night in Atlanta and has a badly sprained foot. Kobe is sure that it was a dirty play because he says Jones slid his foot under Bryant’s. Kobe whines too much. With all due respect to Dwight Howard and the rest, Kobe is the engine that makes the Lakers go, so his injury is a real issue.
Lakers at Pacers Betting Storylines
Officially, Bryant is listed as “out indefinitely,” and there is no timetable for his return. The Pacers, though, just aren’t buying that they won’t see him. Brian Shaw, the long-time Lakers assistant, is an assistant for the Pacers now, and he is at the forefront of the conspiracy theorists who believe that Bryant would have to be dead to not play. If he doesn’t go — which still remains the more likely reality — then Jodie Meeks would take his place in the starting lineup. The former Kentucky star is playing reasonably well — eight points in 19 minutes per game — but the only thing he really has in common with Bryant is the jersey. The pressure would definitely fall onto Howard and Steve Nash to make things work. In that case the Pacers had better be ready to defend the pick and roll, because they’d see a heavy diet of them.
On the season the Lakers have been a truly lousy road team — at 12-21 they have the worst record away from home of any current playoff team. They are 7-5 in the 12 games they have played on the road since the beginning of February, though, so it would be dangerous to read too much on the record as it appears. Similarly, while the Pacers have a very solid 26-7 home record, they are just 6-4 in their last 10 at home, and they somehow managed to drop one to the Raptors.
The Lakers aren’t the only team here that will likely be without their star. Danny Granger is still nursing a knee injury that has really bothered him. After missing all of the year he returned recently for five mostly ineffective games and proved only that he was far from ready. He’s going to be out for at least a couple more games. Of course, the team has done well without him this year, and they did beat the Lakers in L.A. back in November without him. Incidentally, in that November loss Bryant had 40 points and 10 rebounds and that wasn’t enough — the rest of the Lakers only had 37 points combined.
Dwight Howard is playing very well recently, and he is going to be a big part of this game. The Pacers need to find an answer for him, and they have a better chance of having one now than they did earlier in the season. On Wednesday Roy Hibbert had his best game of the year — 27 points and 12 rebounds. In his last six he is averaging 16.8 points, which is almost seven more than his average on the year.
Lakers at Pacers NBA Odds and Betting Trends
The Lakers don’t like playing elite teams — they are just 1-7 ATS in their last eight games against teams with a winning percentage above .600. They bounce back strong, though — they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a straight up loss. The last four meetings in Indiana have gone over the total. The Pacers have failed to cover in their last four games against teams with a winning record.
Lakers at Pacers Picks and Betting Predictions
I’m not buying the conspiracy that Shaw is trying to sell, so I still don’t expect to see Bryant. Despite that, I don’t have a whole lot of faith in the Pacers right now. They have been inconsistent at home, and the Lakers are playing much better recently. They have the tools to keep this one close even without Bryant. The Lakers are the pick.
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