Pelicans at Lakers NBA Pick for December 21st

The Pelicans and Lakers have been in the news this week. Earlier in the week, Lakers star LeBron James told the press that it would be “amazing” if the Lakers traded for Pelicans standout Anthony Davis. Davis’ name has popped up in trade rumors for years, but there is still no indication from Davis himself that he is at all unhappy in New Orleans.

Big market teams poaching their smaller market counterparts’ better players is something that’s been going on in the NBA for years.

What happens with Davis in the future remains to be seen. He is still under contract with the Pelicans through the 2019-20 season, and it’s obviously highly doubtful that New Orleans parts ways with the best player in franchise history this early.

The Pels will do everything they possibly can to make sure Davis is happy enough to stick around, but the Lakers will obviously be at the forefront of his list of suitors if he decides he wants to move on.

The Pelicans are none too pleased at LeBron’s comments. The team is appealing the NBA to fine the Lakers for tampering with their player, but the league is unlikely to take action. Whatever the case, the Pelicans and Lakers will square off in what should be a fast-paced affair in downtown Los Angeles on Friday night.

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The following odds are courtesy of live odds feed:

Betting Data Pelicans Lakers
2018 Straight-Up 15-17 18-13
2018 Home 11-5 11-4
2018 Away 4-12 7-9
2018 ATS 15-17-0 13-18-0
2018 ATS Home 8-8-0 7-8-0
2018 ATS Away 7-9-0 6-10-0
2018 O/U 17-15-0 12-18-1
2018 O/U Home 9-7-0 4-10-1
2018 O/U Away 8-8-0 8-8-0

Short-handed Pelicans

Whether Davis actually suits up for this game is very much in question. The Brow was limited due to illness in the Pels’ loss to the Bucks the other night, and he’s listed as questionable as of this writing.

Davis’ frontcourt mate, Julius Randle, was originally listed as questionable, as well. However, the team said after shootaround that Randle is expected to play.

This is a meaningful game for Randle, who will be opposing the Lakers for the first time. The former Kentucky Wildcat spent the first 4 years of his pro career with the franchise before leaving over the summer as a free agent. He never really found his footing after being the team’s lottery pick back in 2014, but he has played quite well since moving to New Orleans.

The big man is averaging 19.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game despite the fact that he averages just under 28 minutes a night. The Pelicans have a bit of a crowded frontcourt with Randle, Davis and Nikola Mirotic.

However, Mirotic is currently sidelined due to an ankle injury, which has opened the door for Randle to see more playing time. Julius may well be the Pelicans’ top offensive option if Davis is unable to play.

Jrue Holiday’s performance to this point in the season shouldn’t go overlooked. The point guard is rather quietly averaging 20.7 points, 8.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game thus far. Holiday has served as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor, and he may well be the most underrated player in the league these days.

The scoring and assist numbers would be career highs if he’s able to keep them up for the rest of the campaign.

Davis being out would potentially lead to more minutes for Jahlil Okafor up front. The former lottery pick was dynamic in just 13 minutes of action with Davis limited and Randle out in the last game. He racked up 17 points in those 13 minutes on the floor on tidy 6 for 8 shooting from the field.

Okafor isn’t the best rebounder, and his defense is still shoddy, but we know he’s capable of putting the ball through the hoop.

Up and Down Lakers

The Lakers have some injury question marks of their own. Both Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram are listed as questionable after missing a handful of games.

The Lakers recalled both players from the G League earlier this week, which seems to be a sign that both are on the verge of a return. Whether that return comes tonight remains to be seen, but their availability obviously affects things.

LeBron James sees his assist rate take a hit with both players in the lineup. That said, this is still the kind of matchup in which James figures to thrive. The Lakers rank third in the league in pace, while the Pelicans are fourth. This should be quite the up-and-down affair. Fast-paced games suit LeBron’s style of play perfectly.

Of course, LeBron is also in question tonight. Word came down late in the morning that James missed shootaround due to illness, which has the Lakers listing him as questionable, as well.

James not suiting up would obviously negatively affect the Lakers’ offensive prowess. JaVale McGee is also listed as out due to illness, while Tyson Chandler is a game-time decision.

LeBron’s shaky defense has been an issue, but he’s still putting up averages of 28 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7 assists despite the fact that he’ll turn 34 later this month. While his individual defense leaves plenty to be desired, the Lakers as a team have surprisingly defended pretty well this season.

L.A. is giving up 105.6 points per 100 possessions on the year, which is the 10th-best mark in the league. New Orleans ranks just 25th, allowing 109.4 points per 100 possessions.

The Lakers have also gotten some improvement out of Lonzo Ball, who has been quite consistent of late. Last year’s No. 2 overall pick has gone for 13.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.8 steals and a block per game over his last 5 outings. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that he’s made multiple 3-pointers in each of his last 3 contests.

The Pick

This game could go either way. I have my eye on the total, though. The Lakers’ defense has been stingy at times, but I’m not quite ready to go all-in on buying them as a top-10 defensive team.

I’m going to need to see it over a longer stretch in order to believe it. That said, an implied total of 233 points is nothing to shake a stick at.

It’s going to be tough for the teams to hit the over here, but it’s not impossible by any stretch. The fast-paced style of both teams means there should be more possessions in this game than usual, which obviously means more scoring opportunities for both sides.

However, all of the injury situations make things complicated. If James and Davis are both out, I think this game goes under 233. If both are in the lineup, I think we get a shootout that soars past 233 points. If just one of them is able to play, I would be inclined to side with the under due to the potential blowout risk.

So, approach the bet that way. If we hear ahead of time that Davis and James will play, take the over. If one or neither of them plays, bet the under on 233 points.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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