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NBA Preview: 29th December

WELCOME back for another mid-week slate in the NBA as we bring you our best value bets and dodge potential health and safety protocol landmines.

Let’s jump straight into todays slate.

LA Lakers @ Houston Rockets

THE LA Lakers open the first night of a back-to-back as they take on the Rockets in Houston.

LA now moves to 16-18 on the season and just 1-5 over the past fortnight as they continue to struggle to find any form of consistency or competitive edge.

LeBron James has once again shouldered the load and is currently averaging 35 points, 9.5 rebounds and, 5.5 assists in his past four outings. He needs help and it’s going to take a combined effort from their swag of role players to kick start their season.

This being said, LA have had a reasonable strength of schedule over the past fortnight and now come up against arguably the worst side in the NBA in the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets have seemingly had their time in the sun and after owning the longest current winning streak in the NBA they have come crashing back down to earth and in full blown tank mode.

After their 24-point demolition at the hands of Charlotte yesterday, Houston is losing by an average margin of 20.0 points over their past five games.

Now, while LA aren’t the same quality of side offensively they do have some significant advantages in this matchup that must be explored.

In their matchup with the Hornets, Houston continued to allow their opponents to live in transition and attack the rim for easy buckets.  This is the identity of LeBron led teams and it’s no surprise to see the Lakers are ranked 4th in offensive transition frequency.

If the Lakers can continue this style of basketball and push the pace of the game they have the ability to score points in bunches against a non-existent Rockets defence.

Houston rank amongst the worst teams in the league for points per possession and frequency of opponent transition play.

While this is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, they simply cannot afford to skip games against lesser opponents and need to make a statement.

Opting to start Dwight Howard gives them more versatility as a rim running option and with Russell Westbrook, LeBron and Talen Horton-Tucker they should be able to generate enough offence to offset their liabilities without the basketball.

While defence has been a concern for LA, Houston simply don’t have the parts to keep up if this breaks out into a fast-paced end-to-end transition style game.

The line for this game is set at 5.5, and as much as it pains me to play the Lakers as favourites I think too much of their recent form against higher quality opponents has been baked into this.

They have a great stylistic matchup advantage that I expect them to benefit from and I’d expect a large early lead into the half before LeBron takes the foot off the gas and starts preparing for their matchup against Memphis tomorrow.

While this line opened 4.5 it was quickly bet up to the current number. Market should settle at current numbers but I still show an edge on LA at this line.

Our best bet: LA Lakers -6.0 $1.92 at PlayUp



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