Lakers and Jazz start two-game series in L.A.



There’s been plenty of discourse lately about the condensed schedule of the 2020-21 NBA season that followed the shortest offseason in NBA history. ESPN has even written a feature on it regarding the impact it is having on injuries around the NBA. The Lakers have had their share of injuries this season with the entire roster, but most notably with LeBron James and Anthony Davis (the latter of which is going on two months of not playing). The ESPN feature came after a disappointing ACL tear that Jamal Murray sustained, effectively ending his impressive season following a more impressive 2020 Playoffs performance.

I say all of that for the preview of this game as we will be watching a nationally televised Saturday afternoon game between the Lakers and Jazz (Lakers will play Jazz again on Monday) that will not feature LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert,  or Mike Conley Jr. James, Davis, and Mitchell are out with injuries (Mitchell sprained his ankle in the Jazz’ game last night), while Gobert and Conley are only out for “injury recovery” on the second night of a back-to-back (Derrick Favors will also be out for the Jazz).

The above also doesn’t even get into the rest of the Lakers’ injury report that includes Jared Dudley (OUT), Marc Gasol (Questionable), Markieff Morris (Questionable), Kyle Kuzma, Andre Drummond, Wesley Matthews, and Dennis Schröder (all Probable).

Congratulations on getting the condensed 2020-21 season started early, Adam Silver!

Looking on the bright side, the surprise absence of the Jazz’ three best players gives the Lakers a great chance to get a win despite their own extensive injury list. They need to secure every win they can get to stay afloat in the middle of the Western Conference as Anthony Davis ramps up for a return soon. The team is currently in 5th place with a 34-22 record, 3.5 games ahead of the 7th place Dallas Mavericks who were beaten last night by former Laker Julius Randle (44 points) and the Knicks. The Lakers will want to avoid that 7th seed to keep them out of the play-in tournament this year (the Lakers play two games against the Mavericks after these two against the Jazz).

Betting central

Jazz -0.5; Over/under 214.5; Pick-em moneyline -109

I’m now 4-2 following the All-Star break, although I’ve hit a losing streak in my latest two. I picked the wrong player with the first name starting with “J” to go off for the Celtics, as Tatum only scored 14 while Brown scored 40. I’m now 19-25-2 on the season (fade me).

The absence of the Jazz’ best players has turned this game into what is basically a pick-em game. I want to pick the Lakers moneyline as I think the team will view this as a bit of a must-win given the Jazz’ injuries, but I don’t really feel all too confident in that. Instead, I’ll take the Jazz’ 1st quarter moneyline at -112 odds. The Lakers sometimes come out flat, and have especially come out flat lately with only 25.3 points per game in the 1st quarter in their last three games (28th in the NBA). Comparatively, the Jazz have scored 29.3 1st quarter points per game in their last three. Despite many of their starters being out today, I suspect Jordan Clarkson will start and will come out firing against his former team.

Lakers may still get the win at the end!

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook at 9:30 a.m. PST.

Where to watch

As noted previously, the game will be nationally televised on ESPN. The game will also be on Spectrum SportsNet. Tip-off at 1:30 p.m. PST.

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