|-4 LAL (-103) @ pinnacle|
My 10* Division Dominator (Pacific) is on the LA Lakers at 8:05 ET.
All are familiar with the "fall from grace" of the Warriors, going from FIVE straight appearances in the NBA finals (three titles) to the NBA's worst record (15-50) in last year's pandemic-shortened season. However, the Warriors have won SEVEN of 10 and at 19-15, 4 1/2-games inside the playoff cutline (10 teams make this year's postseason). The Los Angeles Lakers won their SEVENTH straight game on Feb 12 and at 21-6, only the 21-5 Utah Jazz owned a better record in the NBA. However, the Lakers were buried in their worst slump of the season (FOUR straight losses and five of six) when they hosted the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. LA got off the schneid with a 102-93 victory.
Curry (29.9-5.5-6.3), Wiggins (17.5 & 4.6) and Oubre (15.5 & 6.0) have led the way for the Warriors this season. However, the recent "big news" was that the team's No. 1 pick (2nd overall of the 2020 draft), James Wiseman (12.3 & 5.8), has returned (11-game absence caused by a sprained wrist). He's played in three straight (all off the bench), averaging 13.7 & 3.7 in about 17 minutes per game. it may NOT be a coincidence that the Warriors are 3-0 SU & ATS in that span. Joining Curry, Wiggins and Oubre in the starting lineup are center Looney (just returned as well and is splitting time with Wiseman) and Green (5.7-6.1-8.7), who with the return of Wiseman and Looney, is back to his natural position of PF.
A.D. (22.5 & 8.4) is sidelined with an Achilles problem (earliest return is right after the All Star break) and LA has gone just 2-5 since he was hurt at Denver back on Feb 15. Of course, LBJ hasn't missed a SINGLE game (35 minutes per), averaging 25.7-8.2-7.9. I had a HUGE play on LA in Friday's game and noted that PG Schroder had been held out the previous four games due to COVID-19 protocols (he tested negative but was held out due to contact tracing) but was available to return on Friday. Simply put, the Lakers aren't the same club without Dennis Schroder (14.4-3.6-4.2) in the lineup (had gone 0-4 SU & ATS in his absence). Schroder made his presence felt on both ends of the court in Friday's game. He scored 22 points and helped slow Portland's Damian Lillard, who managed 11 points in the second half after scoring 24 in the first. With A.D. sidelined, PF Harrell (13.9 & 6.5) and SF Kuzma (11.1 & 6.4) will see more "PT" plus LA has a deep backcourt in Caldwell-Pope (8.8), Horton-Tucker (6.7), Caruso (5.5) and Matthews (4.7).
I said in taking LA on Friday that I expected a "Big push" from them heading in the All Star break and while I won't project on Tuesday's home with the Suns or Wednesday's road game at Sacramento (LA's final game before the break), I will play the Lakers here. The Warriors returned from FOUR games in six days on a road trip to beat the Hornets in San Francisco on Friday but now it's right back on the road for THREE in a row prior to the break. The Lakers are up first and PRIMED to avenge a 115-113 loss to Golden St here at Staples back on Jan 18, when the Warriors rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to edge LA. In that game, LA was favored by 8 1/2-points but here, it's HALF that!