What a massive win for the Los Angeles Lakers last night. On the same day that we learned Anthony Davis was nearing a return, the Lakers went out and handled the favorites in the Eastern Conference 126-101 on the road. Los Angeles was fantastic on the defensive end of the floor, limiting Brooklyn to just 1.025 points per possession and 5-of-18 from beyond the arc.
The win improved the Lakers’ record to 5-6 SU and ATS since LeBron James’ ankle injury, and Frank Vogel deserves a ton of credit for what this team has been able to do without its two best players. Over these 11 games, Los Angeles has allowed just 103.6 points every 100 possessions, the second-best defensive rating in the league behind Utah (103.2). The Lakers have bought in on defense, and they have used a streaky perimeter offense to tread water.
Los Angeles must still survive nearly two weeks before Davis comes back, but it has maintained a healthy distance between itself and Dallas in the seventh seed. The Lakers participating in a play-in game seemed like a potential reality two weeks ago, but this team’s play over the last week has calmed those waters.
Updated injury reports for every game can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
The Main Event
Miami Heat (-1, 222) at Portland Trail Blazers*
Miami seems to have finally found some positive momentum, but injuries threaten to derail that as the team begins a four-game West Coast trip. The Heat are 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS in their last six games, but Victor Oladipo is not with the team due to a knee injury and Tyler Herro is questionable with a foot injury. Oladipo had finally started to come into his own with Miami, scoring 18 points in 25 minutes against the Lakers on Thursday before leaving the contest. If the Heat are going to defend their Eastern Conference title, they need Oladipo and Herro to be healthy, but tonight they may be able to get by without them.
Portland is 2-3 SU and ATS over its last five games, but those performances have been on extreme ends of the spectrum. In their losses, the Trail Blazers' average margin of defeat has been 18 points, but they blew out the Pistons and Thunder by a combined 63 points. When you have a defense that is as poor as Portland’s, there are going to be some astonishing results, and bettors have seen that play out over the last few games. Tonight, that defense will be front and center again, as they take on a team that can completely exploit one of their biggest weaknesses.