The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips as Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers look to push their playoffs barrow with a win.
14:30 (AEDT), Sat 12th Mar @ Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles
History: Played 202: Lakers 124 V Wizards 78
Last meeting: April 28, 2021: Wizards 116 d Lakers 107 at Capital One Arena
Final Thoughts: Washington Wizards are still holding out hope of forcing their way into the Eastern Conference play-in tournament, while struggling LA Lakers are clinging to their top-10 spot in the West.
The teams’ first meeting of the season sees marquee-signing bust Russell Westbrook going up against Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who the Lakers traded to the Wizards to bring Westbrook to Los Angeles and form a misfiring superteam.
The 29-35 Wizards are 11th in the East, 1.5 wins behind the Hawks with 18 games of the regular season remaining. The 28-37 Lakers sit ninth in the West, with the 11th-placed Blazers currently three wins behind.
The Wizards remain inconsistent and having won back-to-back games since mid-January. But they haven’t lost more than two in a row since the start of February either. This week they overcome the Pacers at home (133-123) before being run down on the road to the Clippers (115-109).
Big trade acquisition Kristaps Porzingis belatedly debuted for the Wizards with 25 points and 5 rebounds against the Pacers. Kuzma has flourished in the capital, averaging 17.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Front-court partner Caldwell-Pope has been in strong form lately, averaging 18.3 points and 3.1 three-pointers in the Wizards’ past nine games. The back-court has looked thin since Bradley Beal’s wrist injury and Spencer Dinwiddie being traded away.
The Lakers have won just seven of their last 25 games, including only one of their last six. LeBron James exploded for 56 points in a 124-116 upset of the Warriors last weekend, but since then they have lost away to the Spurs (117-110) and Rockets (139-130 in OT). LeBron posted a triple-double against the Rockets, while Westbrook put up 30 points – but it is shaping as almost certain that his ill-fated stint at the Lakers will end after just one season.
Anthony Davis (ankle) remains sidelined, while James, Talen Horton-Tucker and Malik Monk are all in doubt for this crunch game.
The Wizards have won 12 of their last 16 against the Lakers, including both encounters last season. They prevailed 127-124 in overtime in LA and 116-107 at home – though then-Wizard Westbrook was prominent in both victories.
The Lakers are 19-18 at Crypto.com Arena this season (14-23 ATS), winning just one of their last five. The Wizards are 12-18 on the road (10-19-1 ATS), winning one of their last four away.
LeBron’s presence – assuming he plays today – gives the Lakers a chance every time he steps on the court, and the Wizards’ are the NBA’s 24th-ranked team defensively. But after the addition of Porzingis and with Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope returning to LA with a point to prove, the Wizards are an enticing underdog in an intriguing match-up.
Best Bet: Result – Wizards @ $2.47