NBA Betting Preview: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies


December 29, 2021

I’ve always thought that if you’re handicapping a game and the point spread doesn’t make sense to you, it’s probably one that you should either stay away from or manage your units carefully. That was precisely the scenario I found myself in yesterday when I struggled to rationalize why Oklahoma City was a six-point underdog against Sacramento. Luckily, I laid the best of the number, which resulted in a push and not a loss.

For Wednesday, we’ll turn our attention to the Lakers, who are playing a slightly different brand of basketball since losing Anthony Davis to an MCL sprain.

With Anthony Davis sidelined and Dwight Howard still getting his conditioning back after a stint in COVID protocols, the Los Angeles Lakers started LeBron James at center for the first time in his career. This is an interesting move for the Lakers as they’re essentially playing with a smaller lineup which tends to facilitate a more fast-paced game. That’s why the total is currently sitting at 226.5. Moreover, with a smaller lineup, the Lakers are less of a deterrent, defensively, inside the paint as James is already preoccupied with guarding bigger players.

And without Davis to patrol the paint, it’s no surprise that the total is 4-1 to the over since his injury.

The Lakers also play a much more uptempo style with a smaller lineup. Per TeamRankings, Los Angeles is third in fastbreak points with 15.5 per game. However, that number’s up to 16.3 over its past three games. The Lakers will now face a Grizzlies team that ranks 25th in opponent fastbreak efficiency.

The loss of Davis also means the Lakers need other players to step up in terms of scoring. That’s precisely why the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook’s energy and ability to push the ball up and down the court helps the Lakers get easier baskets in transition.

Los Angeles came into the season as the oldest team in the league with an average age of 30. However, you might be surprised to learn that it leads all teams with 106.5 possessions per game. Memphis is ninth in that category with 102.9 possessions per game.

Thus, given the style both teams are likely to play, I think the over is worth looking at in this spot.

Pick: Over 226.5

All NBA predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid.

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Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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