LA Lakers’ NBA play-off hopes remain in the balance
The next few days will decide whether or not the LA Lakers and their team of megastars will head into the post-season or put their feet up for the summer.
Los Angeles invested heavily last year, bringing in the likes of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to accompany Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and so far the gamble has not paid off.
The Lakers, in short, have struggled to gel on the court and, as such, find themselves in the unenviable position of not having their play-off fate in their own hands.
A win for Utah Jazz, who hold the tie-breaker over Los Angeles, would make this game a must-win for the hosts if they are to progress to the play-offs.
The extra carrot dangling in front of the Lakers’ eyes is the chance to leapfrog the Rockets and subsequently draw San Antonio – rather than Oklahoma City – in the play-off openers.
Houston may stand one game above LA in the Western Conference and the hosts have recently lost 26.8ppg star man Kobe Bryant to a season-ending injury, but it is Mike D’Antoni’s men who go into this tie as the 5/7 favourites.
The Rockets are priced as the 6/5 slight outsider and this is in no small part due to the momentum picked up by the now-desperate Lakers.
LA are 7-1 in their last eight games, picking up five consecutive victories at the Staples Center. Houston, however, head into the match on a 6-3 run over the last nine and having won just two of their last six on the road.
The head-to-head record also sways the betting in favour of LA, with the Lakers taking the spoils in five of the last six meetings between the two in California.
This match-up also provides and opportunity to check out the over/under market, which offers equal odds of 10/11 on a total of 204 points.
Taking into account that the Rockets are the NBA point leaders, with an average of 106.1 per game, and that both sides leak more than 100 points per game at the back, opting for over could prove a shrewd investment.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.