Pelicans vs. Lakers: Value on New-Look LA

Chris Baker breaks down Wednesday's NBA matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers and shares his betting preview.

Pelicans vs. Lakers Odds

Pelicans Odds +148
Lakers Odds -176
Over/Under 234.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Lakers look to defend their home court and get revenge against this Pelicans team that upset them in a massive comeback 11 days ago on national television. Will the new-look Lakers have enough offensive firepower to defend Arena, or will the Pelicans continue their hot-streak? Find a Pelicans vs. Lakers betting preview below.

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Pelicans Must Limit Transition Opportunities

It feels like their win over the Lakers on February 4th sparked this Pelicans team as they have won three of their last four games by fairly comfortable margins.

During this stretch, the Pelicans offense has been carried by Brandon Ingram, who has averaged a 37% Usage Rate over the past four games. He has averaged 31 points and 5.3 assists per game on 57% shooting and 46% from 3. Ingram has been excellent and will need to continue his efficiency against a stout Lakers defense.

If CJ McCollum is out again, expect Ingram to carry a massive workload here as he had an insane 41.9% Usage Rate in their most recent game against the Thunder.

I would look to maybe play his assists prop over depending on what it opens at. Ingram had four assists in their most recent matchup against the Lakers, but the Lakers waited until late in the fourth quarter to force the ball out of his hands. Expect the Lakers to execute more double teams and exert more pressure on Ingram in general tonight, so he should be looking for his teammates more often here.

On the other end, this Pelicans defense will need to get back in transition and force the Lakers to play in the halfcourt. It was a tale of two halves for the Pelicans in the first matchup as they allowed 72 points in the first half and just 54 in the second.

The big difference between each half was that the Pelicans actually got back and forced the Lakers to run halfcourt offense. For the game, the Lakers had a 17.5% transition rate (71st percentile) and were a +8.6 in transition points per 100 possessions (90th percentile).

When forced to play in the halfcourt, the Lakers had an Offensive Rating of 102.3 (60th percentile). The Pelicans must string together two straight halves of transition defense if they want any chance of stealing a win on the road.

New and Improved Lakers

This line at -3 indicates to me that the sportsbooks expect LeBron James to play despite being listed as questionable. If James is good to go, expect the Lakers to have a fairly strong performance here on both ends.

The Lakers have struggled a bit over the past two weeks but undeniably got significantly better at the trade deadline. Adding D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt massively raises their ceiling on both ends of the floor, and I expect them to look much better with James back in the lineup.

This line closed around a pick-em in New Orleans 11 days ago with a fully healthy CJ McCollum in the lineup. I understand the Pelicans have shown improvement as of late, but they haven’t played a a ridiculously difficult schedule either. I would argue that the Lakers have gotten at least three points better since the last matchup when you factor in homecourt and the additions at the deadline.

The Lakers dominated that game for the first 34 minutes with guys like Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley playing significant minutes. I expect them to look even better tonight with D’Angelo Russell, Beasley, and Vanderbilt alongside James and Anthony Davis.

Pelicans-Lakers Pick

This Lakers team is at least three points better than they were 11 days ago when you factor in homecourt and their trade deadline improvement. Expect them to come out motivated after their collapse at New Orleans fewer than two weeks ago.

The Lakers will also be energized by the return of Lebron James and with this being the first time D’lo, Beasley, Vando and James have all played together. Expect the Lakers to come out with intensity and energy and get their revenge on the Pelicans.