LeBron takes show to Northeast

NBA fans in the Northeast get their only regular-season in-person look at LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers this week: Monday in Boston, Wednesday in New York, Thursday in Brooklyn and Saturday in Philadelphia.

Quite a dilemma. Fans paid big money to see him in person. But they know their favorite local team will be in for a battle. It’s one thing to root against him. Should they risk betting against him? 

The Lakers are 10-1 straight up against moneylines since Christmas and 5-1 against the spread in their last six after an impressive 124-115 win Saturday at Houston as 3.5-point underdogs. That brought the Lakers to 34-8 straight up, 23-18-1 ATS for the season.

A helpful advance tip for fans and bettors in the Lakers-Rockets game was provided on game day by VSiN’s Jonathan Von Tobel, guesting on “The Lombardi Line.” He noted league rankings showing “the Lakers take the most shots at the rim, and they are the best shooting team within 4 feet.” They shot 74.3% in close vs. Houston’s notoriously soft inside defense. Analysts should expect such dominance to continue against opponents ill equipped to deal with L.A.’s aggressive, physical onslaught. 

The Lakers entered the week with the best record in the Western Conference, enjoying a 4.5-game cushion over the Clippers. Of course, clinching home-court advantage in a playoff series between the two is irrelevant because they share Staples Center. Both are still virtual co-favorites to win the conference on futures boards partly because of that quirk.

The Clips have won five of their last six games straight up but are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven against inflated point spreads. They rallied to win but not cover Saturday at New Orleans 133-130 as seven-point favorites. A winter tour of Sun Belt states continues Tuesday at Dallas, Wednesday at Atlanta, Friday at Miami and Sunday at Orlando.

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