Lakers vs. Blazers Preview: Has Market Gone Too Far on Total?

Lakers vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Lakers Odds +4.5
Trail Blazers Odds -4.5
Over/Under 219.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The late game on Saturday night features two teams with a long playoff history against one another.

Their most recent playoff matchup happened in the 2020 Bubble. There was a minor scare when the eighth-seeded Trail Blazers stole Game 1, but the Lakers reeled off four straight games to eliminate the Blazers and go on to win the NBA championship.

This season, both teams have come out the gate slow. The Lakers are slightly above .500 at 5-4, but are only 1-8 against the spread and have vastly underperformed the market’s expectation. The Trail Blazers, who have been favorites in seven out of their eight games, are only 4-5 overall and 3-6 ATS.

Which underperforming team will prevail on Saturday night? Let’s break down the matchup.

Lakers Playing Fast Without LeBron

After last season’s disappointing first round exit, the Lakers front office (highly influenced by LeBron James) decided changes need to be made. They needed to surround James and Anthony Davis with more depth.

Over the offseason, the Lakers made a massive overhaul of their roster, bringing in big names such as Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo and DeAndre Jordan. Sounds great, right? Maybe if it were 2011, not 2021.

Anthony has stepped up this season, averaging 17.0 PPG and has shot over 50% from the field (50.5%) and the 3-point line (52.5%). Could we see a revenge game coming? The Blazers do not defend the 3-pointer very well, allowing their opponents to shoot 37.9% from behind the arc, 25th worst in the league. Anthony should continue his hot 3-point shooting.

The Lakers will be missing James for another week. The On/Off numbers show that the Lakers play at a faster pace when he is off the court, increasing from 101.7 to 103.3, per Basketball Reference. The Lakers play at second-fastest pace in the league. I expect Westbrook to be leading an up-tempo attack against the Trail Blazers.

Blazers Struggling Under New Rules

The Trail Blazers had their own disappointing first round exist last season, at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. They’ve been stuck in mediocrity for several seasons in Damian Lillard’s prime, which caused the Blazers’ front office to part ways with former head coach Terry Stotts and bring in former player and first-time head coach Chauncey Billups.

Things have not started well under the new coaching regime. The Blazers recently returned from a three-game road trip where they lost each game as favorites. They did bounce back on Friday night with a win against the Indiana Pacers at home.

Lillard’s numbers are down overall across the board. He is only scoring 19.5 points per game and 35.3% shooting from the field. As a team, however, they are still ranked No. 7 in Offensive Rating (110.4) in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats.

As a result of the new rule changes, the NBA has implemented, referees have been calling fewer fouls and allowing more physicality, which has visibly affected Lillard’s game.

C.J. McCollum and Norman Powell are picking up the slack on offense and it is only a matter of time before Lillard returns to form. It can begin with the Lakers, who’s defense has not looked as sharp as it did last season.

The Trail Blazers are 27-15 to the over on the second game of a back-to-back since the 2017-2018 season, per the Sports Data Query Language on Gimme The Dog.

Lakers-Trail Blazers Pick

The total is sitting at 219.5, which factors in lower expectations for scoring with James out. I anticipate this to be a faster paced game with James sitting out yet another game. Both teams’ defensive metrics this season leave nothing to be desired. Each team can score in bunches.

Even with unders being so prevalent in the season, this was an over-adjustment. I see this game as high-scoring and would play this over up to 221.

Pick: Over 219.5 (up to 221)