Los Angeles will do battle in Houston against the lowly Rockets tonight without Anthony Davis. However, since coming to L.A. Jarred Vanderbilt has been a do-it-all guy for the Lakers, and our NBA betting picks expect him to add distributor to that list.
The Los Angeles Lakers have crept past the cut-off for the NBA’s play-in tournament with a surge since the All-Star break and will try to keep that momentum going when they visit the Houston Rockets Wednesday.
Los Angeles is playing the second of back-to-back games after beating up on New Orleans last night and will be without star center Anthony Davis, who is expected to sit out for some rest management. The Lakers are 7-3 straight up and against the spread post-break and have gone 5-3 SU and ATS since losing LeBron James to a foot injury on February 26.
Houston stunned NBA bettors by not only covering against Boston as a 13-point home underdog Monday, but beating it outright. That victory snapped a three-game slide for the Rockets, who currently sit second to last in the league but have produced profits in recent outings with a 4-1-1 ATS count in their last six outings.
I run down the spread and Over/Under total for this Western Conference clash and give my best NBA picks and predictions for the Lakers vs. Rockets on March 15.
Lakers vs Rockets best odds
Lakers vs Rockets picks and predictions
Since joining the Lakers as part of the Russell Westbrook trade to Utah, Vanderbilt has played a vital role on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging about seven points and more than seven rebounds a game while also giving L.A. a versatile defender.
Vanderbilt will add distributor to that resume tonight in Houston. His assist total is sitting at 2.5 with the Over at +120, and given the makeup of these teams and Davis’ absence, I feel Vanderbilt will dish out at least three assists.
Vanderbilt is getting just over 26 minutes per game but will see that workload spike tonight with Davis sidelined. Ham will likely move Vanderbilt around to all three forward spots, including time at center when Los Angeles goes small.
The Rockets play a pretty tight interior but are lax on the perimeter, where they allow the most 3-point attempts (39.2) and most 3-pointers made in the league (14.7). The Lakers have been 3-point happy the previous two outings, firing up a total of 75 shots from long range after averaging only 32 in the 11 games prior.
Vanderbilt recorded three assists in the win over NOLA and had two in the loss to the Knicks on Sunday, playing 28 and 24 minutes with Davis in action.
With AD out, Vanderbilt will touch the ball much more. His aggressive style will draw defenders and generate kickouts to shooters on the wing. Vanderbilt also has boundless energy and can fill the lane or push the ball in transition, something Houston struggled mightily with.
Los Angeles doesn’t have Davis or backup center Mo Bamba, so expect to see some very guard-heavy rotations from coach Ham, with plenty of scoring pop from this Lakers roster by way of D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Dennis Schroder, Rui Hachimura, and Austin Reaves. That group was a collective 15-for-30 from deep last night and will see plenty of space on the outside to let it fly.
Vanderbilt is averaging 2.6 assists on the season and will have plenty of chances to pass for three or more dimes against a dismal Houston defense tonight.
My best bet: Jarred Vanderbilt total assists Over 2.5 (+120)
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Lakers vs Rockets spread analysis
Depending on where you bet, this line opened as high as Lakers -4.5 (padded a bit with Davis expected to rest) but quickly sunk to -2.5 when L.A. coach Darvin Ham ruled out Davis for Wednesday’s game. There has been buyback on the road team, which has the market consensus up to Lakers -3 with highs of -3.5.
Davis’ absence is a notable one on both ends of the floor for Los Angeles. Since James’ injury, Davis has stepped up his offensive production and is averaging almost 28 points a night in that span — including burying his former franchise with 35 points and 17 rebounds in just over 33 minutes Tuesday.
Davis is also a big body on the boards (9.6 rebounds) and his presence in the paint changes a lot of shots and allows L.A.’s perimeter defense to play with more pressure on the ball, knowing the 6-foot-10 shot blocker has their backs.
Defense has been the Lakers calling card since swapping out the majority of their roster at the trade deadline. Since making those moves, this current version of the Purple and Gold has boasted a defensive rating of 109.3 since February 11 — second best in the NBA in that stretch — which is an about-face from the team’s former rating of 114.3 (20th).
The Rockets may not test the Brow-less Lakers too much. They’re among the worst offensive clubs in the NBA and the upset over Boston was more to do with the Celtics’ struggles with the basketball, shooting 45% from the floor including an ice-cold 12-for-42 from 3-point range.
Houston averages a little over 110 points per game at home and could also be without its starting center in Alperen Sengun, who is questionable after missing Monday’s matchup with a groin injury. The Rockets are home underdogs for the 35th time this season, going 15-16-3 ATS when getting the points inside the Toyota Center.
Lakers vs Rockets Over/Under analysis
This Over/Under number opened at 230.5 points and dipped to as low as 228 with Davis ruled out for sure. However, early-morning action on the Under has brought the total back up to 231.5 at some sharper books.
Without their big man in the middle, the Lakers will roll out a smaller lineup as backup center Mo Bamba is also out of action. Six-foot-9 forward Wenyen Gabriel could move into the starting lineup, Jarred Vanderbilt could also see time at center, and reserves like Dennis Schroder, Hachimura, and Reaves could see upticks as Ham goes small.
The Lakers already play one of the most up-tempo attacks in the NBA, owning the second fastest pace rating (102.22) and thriving on pushing the ball in transition. Houston ranks middle of the road in that metric but could also be smaller if Sengun is sidelined, with forward Tari Eason getting the starting nod.
On the season, Houston bottoms out in most defensive metrics and owns a -5.1 net rating on its own floor. The Rockets struggle against transition teams, giving up an NBA-worst 1.19 points per play to those attacks and allowing transition offenses to crank out a 53.3% scoring frequency.
Since swapping out their role players in mid-February, the Lakers’ defensive 180 has helped produce a 5-8 Over/Under count for total bettors. On the year, however, Los Angeles is 21-14 O/U on the road. Houston enters Wednesday with a 17-17 O/U mark at home and is 4-3 O/U in seven games this month — with two of those Over results coming against the Spurs’ league-worst defense.
Lakers vs Rockets betting trend to know
The Lakers are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games vs. a team with a losing record. Find more NBA betting trends for Lakers vs. Rockets.
Lakers vs Rockets game info
|Location:||Toyota Center, Houston, TX|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 15, 2023|
|Tip-off:||8:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||AT&T SportsNet Southwest, Spectrum Sportsnet|