Two of the most storied franchises in the history of basketball square off on Wednesday, both with a lot of play-in motivation heading into this game.
As things stand on Wednesday, the visiting Lakers sit in the thick of the West play-in race, holding a 0.5-game lead on the Thunder and Mavericks for the No. 9 seed, while only 1.5 games back of Minnesota for the No. 7 seed. With LeBron James back in the fold, the Lakers have seen their title and playoff odds start to increase with the expectation that this team will kick their performance up yet another gear.
On the flip side of this game, the Bulls hold a rather comfortable 2.5-game lead on the Wizards for the No. 10 seed, especially considering the fact that the Wizards have been holding both Kyle Kuzma and Bradley Beal out of games recently. The Bulls are still within reach of the No. 8 and No. 9 seed in the play-in, so there is plenty of motivation for them to win at home tonight.
Despite the motivation, I’m jumping on the Lakers’ train heading into the United Center on Tuesday.
LAKERS VS. BULLS BETTING ODDS
Odds and lines accurate at the time of publication
LAKERS VS. BULLS BEST BETS
Lakers ML (-140, DraftKings)
While James is still listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game, it would make sense to see him suit up for the Lakers. Not only is this an island game with their next game not coming until Friday, but James also played nearly 30 minutes (29.5) off the bench on Sunday, showing no signs of ailment. With three days off prior to this game and a rather robust workload (albeit as a reserve) in his first game back, all signs point to him playing on Wednesday.
The return of James will only help this surging Lakers’ defense, as they’ve ranked 2nd in the entire NBA in defensive rating (110.7) since the acquisition of Jarred Vanderbilt, while also ranking top five in defensive rebounds per game (35.9) and allowing the sixth-fewest points per game (111.2).
While this Bulls team has strung together some impressive performances as of late, they’ve still ranked in the bottom half of the league in points per game (115.3) in March, as they’ve been carried on the back of their defense. Because of this, the potential absence of Alex Caruso could be monumental in this matchup.
With James listed as questionable as well as Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell listed as probable, this line is surely going to move more in favor of the Lakers if/when any or all of these players are ruled in, so it’s advisable to get ahead of the news and take the moneyline at a relatively strong value (-140) and bank on the stars suiting up in the Windy City on Tuesday (it also happens to be a homecoming for Anthony Davis!).
Risk: 1.4 units on DraftKings to win 1 unit.
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