Wizards vs. Lakers Preview: Back L.A. If LeBron James Suits Up

Action Network betting contributor Tyler Schmidt breaks down the Friday NBA showdown between the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers.

Wizards vs. Lakers Odds

Wizards Odds +4.5
Lakers Odds -4.5
Over/Under 228.5
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Will the Los Angeles Lakers not make the play-in tournament this season? That is the trend they are going down as they get a home matchup against the Washington Wizards tonight.  They need to right the ship quickly to stay in the playoff discussion. LeBron James has made the playoffs in 15 of his 18 seasons in the NBA. No way he won’t make it with 10 teams in the playoffs now, right?

After a playoff appearance last season, the Wizards are on the outside looking in at the moment. There is still hope to make it to the dance, but they will have to do so without their best player Bradley Beal. Will the addition of the unicorn Kristaps Porzingis be enough for them to make a run and get in?

This is a very intriguing matchup as both teams try and find their footing coming down the home stretch. Every game matters. Let’s dive in!

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Washington Wizards Rolling With Porzingis

The Washington Wizards have been on a roller coaster ride recently. They are 5-6 in their last 11 games, but they have traded off wins and losses nearly the entire way. Despite being 12-18 on the road this season, the Wizards are still only 1.5 games back of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards are pretty much at full strength minus Bradley Beal, who has been out since the end of January. After a playoff appearance last season, it will be tough to get back there minus a potential run in the play-in games.

Newly acquired Kristaps Porzingis has played very well in his two games since joining the Wizards. He has averaged 22 points per game while shooting 57.7% from the field and 55.6% from behind the arc. Porzingis played 21 minutes in his first game and 26 in his last game. The minutes will likely continue to increase, especially if the Wizards can make a run at the playoffs.

Kyle Kuzma is having one of the best seasons of his young career as he is averaging 17.2 points and career highs in both rebounds and assists. He is shooting a career-best 45.7% from the field in his first year with the Wizards.

The Wizards have been underdogs in 37 of their 64 games this season and have only covered in 43.2% of those games. This is their first game against the Lakers this season as it will be Kuzma’s first chance to show out in front of his old crowd. This is a pace-up spot for the Wizards as the Lakers rank fifth in pace this season. They will likely find a way to make this game competitive.

Los Angeles Lakers Lacking

Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Lakers are coming off of arguably their worst loss of the season against the Rockets who continue to bring up the rear in the Western Conference. The Lakers are hanging onto a playoff spot for dear life as they have lost nine of their last 11 games. They better get right fast.

Personally it feels like only a matter of time until they shut down LeBron James. He is questionable tonight with a knee injury as he has been questionable for what feels like most of the second half of this season. The Lakers are seemingly in desperation mode so I would assume he suits up.

James is averaging 29.3 points per game, which is the most he has scored since his last season with the Cavaliers in 2009-10. He is also playing an absurd 37 minutes per game, which ranks third behind the two Raptors starters.

In back-to-back games, James has shown that his ceiling is still extremely high. He had a season-high 56 points against the Warriors where he shot 19-31 from the field leading the Lakers to a victory. In their most recent game against the Rockets, James got a triple-double with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. He even tallied four blocks in their overtime losing effort.

Outside of James, this Lakers team is not good at all. Russell Westbrook is well, Russell Westbrook. He is averaging only 18.3 points per game, which is the lowest total since the 2009-10 season. Westbrook is shooting 43.5% from the field and a pitiful 28.2% from behind the arc. It is safe to say the Westbrook experience hasn’t fully panned out for the Lakers this season.

Not only is James questionable, but so are both Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker. However, James is the main deciding factor. If he is good to go, which the line suggests right now, then it will be tough to bet against the Lakers in this spot.

Wizards-Lakers Pick

Monitor the status of LeBron James here, but if he is playing, we’ll go with the Lakers. James is dominant when his back is against the wall. We aren’t to that point yet, but after losing to the Rockets it sure seems like it’s do or die time for Los Angeles.

I am also very intrigued by James’ points prop. The Wizards rank 21st in both points allowed in the paint and Defensive Rating this season. The line will likely be somewhere around 29.5 points and I will gladly take the over up to 30.5 points. As far as the game, I’ll take the Lakers even if this line got to 5.5 points.

Pick: Lakers -4.5 | Bet to: -5.5