The banged up Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz meet at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Wednesday night. This would have been a highly anticipated matchup if the Lakers were healthy. However, Anthony Davis out of the lineup changes the Lakers completely. His presence on the court is obviously incredibly important to the Lakers.
Lebron James is still talented, and the Lakers would completely fall into the ground if he wasn’t on the floor. Having said that, Lebron is older now, and his workload has been through the roof this season. The concept of load management has gone out the window for Lebron.
At the beginning of the season, head coach Frank Vogel indicated that he was going to give Lebron the discretion to take games off when he wanted to. With AD on the shelf, Lebron has not had the luxury of relaxing. That includes during games. He is on the floor more, and when Lebron is on the floor, he’s being forced to carry the load on his shoulders.
The Lakers head into Salt Lake City on a three-game losing streak. They’re coming off a really tough 127-124 loss against the Washington Wizards in overtime. This was after going down to the wire in a 96-94 loss against the Miami Heat on Saturday. The defense has still been holding strong with AD active, but offensively they’ve generally looked lost at times without him.
He does so much to a defense even without the ball in his hands that it’s not too surprising that the Lakers have been struggling mightily. In their previous six outings, the only win for the Lakers was against a weak Minnesota Timberwolves squad by a score of 112-104. Even in that game, the offense didn’t look too spiffy versus a beatable Timberwolves’ defense.
The Lakers have to contend with the most underrated team in the NBA on Wednesday night. The Jazz were slow starters against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, but awakened in the second-half to blow the Hornets out for a 132-110 final score. The Jazz out scored the Hornets 41-20 in the fourth quarter to clear with ease. With the win, the Jazz are 25-6 and first in the Western Conference going into tonight. They hold a three-game advantage over the LA Clippers. Head below for our free Lakers vs. Jazz pick on February 24, 2021.
LA Lakers vs. Utah Jazz NBA Betting Odds:
Lakers vs. Jazz Prediction:
The Lakers were not exactly an offensive team to begin with when AD was healthy on the floor. They were carrying the ball up the floor slowly and limiting possessions for other teams. It worked out nicely with an imposing figure like AD spreading the floor. The Lakers were operating more like a team from the mid 2000’s that looked to not waste possessions than an offensive juggernaut.
It was working because the Lakers weren’t leaving empty handed offensively. Note that the Lakers are shooting 48.3% from the field for fourth in the NBA. However, they are averaging just 112.2 points per game for 18th. Their high shooting percentage is mainly because of AD’s offensive efficiency.
Without him, though, the Lakers are wasting offensive trips a little more than they used to. In their previous five outings, even with overtime included, the Lakers have scored an average of 106.6 points per game. They shot 46.9% from the field through those five games. On the road in 2020-21, the Lakers have recorded an average of 109 points per contest.
We should expect the Lakers to face problems getting their offense going versus this Jazz defense. The Lakers need AD to counter Rudy Gobert, but that will not be the case in this contest. Utah is one of the best defensive teams in the league, and that’s in large part because of Gobert. They’ve conceded 106.4 points per game for second in the NBA. If the Lakers are going to pull this one off, they are going to have to ugly it up and rely on their defense.
The Lakers have been incredibly effective defensively this season. They’ve been a hair better than the Jazz, with 106.2 points against per contest. Defense has travelled for the Lakers as well. Note that they’ve allowed just 102.2 points per game on the road. They haven’t been quite as strong without AD in this regard, naturally, but still holding up well. The Lakers recently limited the high-flying Nets to 109 points in a 109-98 loss on Thursday. I’m backing the UNDER in Salt Lake City.