Pelicans vs Lakers Game Preview & Predictions
Playoff Implications for Western Conference Foes
Play-in Spot at Stake
Two sides vying for the remaining play-in spots in the Western Conference meet at the Crypto.com Arena on Friday in a game that will have significant impacts on deciding the potential playoff fate of both sides. Our New Orleans Pelicans vs Los Angeles Lakers predictions will take a look at the importance of this matchup when weighing up the potential return of LA’s stars.
The Lakers, who are officially back to the No. 11 seed after their loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday, may have LeBron James and Anthony Davis back in the lineup, with both players being reported to have been set to return in this game.
The Pelicans come into this one with their stars fully healthy again, and we have seen the potential that this team has when their new-look lineup are all available and sharing the floor together.
Despite a rocky period in their absence, the Pelicans remain two games clear of the Lakers in the nine seed and a win could all but punch their ticket to the play-in tournament.
Rusty or Rested?
The big question for the Los Angeles Lakers in this one will be whether their superstars are able to come back feeling rested or whether their time off has left them looking rusty.
James should have no such concerns, with the 37-year-old missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Prior to that, he had 39 points in 42 minutes in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Davis, on the other hand, hasn’t seen the floor since mid-February and his injury record makes it hard to gauge whether he can be trusted to have the impact required to truly push this Lakers team toward its true ceiling.
Given his hesitation to play at the center position because of a reluctance to deal with the heavy contact that comes with it, a matchup against Jonas Valanciunas isn’t the most ideal way for Davis to make his return to action.
Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel will likely have a hard minutes restriction on Davis, which makes it very hard to accurately assess the NBA points spreads and predictions on this game.
Either way, having both available again is a far better outcome than not having them play, so even if they are off their best basketball, it is still an improvement on their current rotations.
Pelicans Seek Repeat Performance
It was barely a week ago that the New Orleans Pelicans were able to erase a 25-point deficit and steal a 116-108 win over the Lakers to help provide some separation between the teams in the Western Conference standings.
A win here will certainly set them up to secure a play-in spot with just five games remaining on their schedule.
Two of those games are against a tanking Portland Trail Blazers team and an equally dysfunctional Sacramento Kings outfit. Given that a win would move them three games clear of the Lakers, it’s difficult to see how they give up ground when there’s at least two very winnable games remaining.
They also have the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors on deck to round out their season and both those sides will almost certainly be resting all their starters, so the opportunity to win out the remaining games is strong.
That said, the opportunity to cement the No. 9 seed early would also give them the chance to rest their stars heading into the first play-in showdown, and that’s something that should be looked at when making your Pelicans vs Lakers predictions.
Lakers’ Time Almost Up
This game certainly carries more weight for the Los Angeles Lakers than it does the Pelicans.
Their remaining schedule remains the toughest of the three teams vying for the final two play-in spots in the West and a loss here could force management to simply shut it down and allow their stars the opportunity to rest over the offseason.
The hardest part about making Pelicans vs Lakers betting predictions is to understand what the true value of James and Davis are to the spread in their current states.
There is still the chance that one or both are pulled from the lineup prior to tip-off, which would naturally have huge impacts on the markets as a result.
We’ve heard this many times already with the Lakers in the past month, but this truly shapes up to be a must-win game for this team. Anything less and it’s officially time to write them off for the season, given the circumstances around the team and the upcoming schedule.