Trail Blazers vs. Lakers NBA Odds, Preview and Prediction

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LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball. David Berding/Getty Images/AFP.

Bring in the New Year with the Los Angeles Lakers (17-19) hosting the Portland Trail Blazers (13-21) on NBA TV. The Lakers have lost six of their last seven games while Portland has dropped 10 of their last 12 games. Still, the Lakers are hanging onto the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. But what about the NBA odds?

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Friday, December 31, 2021 – 10:30 PM EST at Crypto.com Arena

The Lakers (14-22 ATS) are a 6-point home favorite over the Trail Blazers (12-22 ATS) at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. These are two of the three teams in the league currently covering the spread under 40% of the time this season. Even at home the Lakers only cover 30% of the time (6-14), but Portland is 3-11 ATS (21.4%) on the road.

Lakers: LeBron’s Still Got It, but Lakers Do Not

LeBron James turned 37 years old on Thursday, but you wouldn’t know it from his play as of late. He has scored at least 31 points and shot at least 52% from the field in each of his last six games, a span where he is averaging 34.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and shooting 57.0% from the field and 40.4% from three. Yet despite these MVP numbers, the Lakers are 1-5 in those games and a minus-9 with James on the court.

The Lakers have only managed to beat a bad Houston team in their last seven outings, not all of which were against winning teams. Despite James’s efforts, the Lakers have been held under 100 points three times in the last two weeks, including Wednesday night’s 104-99 loss in Memphis. The Lakers, the fastest-paced team in the league, are 3-12 when they score fewer than 110 points.

It is no coincidence this 1-6 run started the night Anthony Davis left injured in Minnesota. Over the last seven games, the Lakers rank 28th in offensive rating and 24th in defensive rating. The bigger decline has actually been on defense as the Lakers rank 12th for the season in defensive rating and 25th in offensive rating.

James just does not get enough help from the poorly constructed roster. Carmelo Anthony’s inevitable cooling down has been going on for weeks, but in the last seven games, he is only shooting 38.1% from the field and 30.2% from three. Center Dwight Howard has scored fewer than 7 points in his last eight games. Russell Westbrook is averaging 19.9 points per game over the last seven, and the Lakers are plus-5.0 points better in net rating with him off the court this season.

The Lakers are hanging in games and led Memphis for almost 40 minutes before blowing the lead in the fourth quarter. A weaker opponent like Portland is in this team’s wheelhouse to beat, but everything is a grind these days for LeBron and company.

Portland: 12th in the West

Portland has lost its last three games by 14 or 15 points and shot under 45% in each, so things are even sourer there than they are with the Lakers. Portland has already beat the Lakers, 105-90 back in November, but that game could not be any more irrelevant for Friday night. James missed that game, and none of LA’s starters scored more than 8 points as Portland owned the first quarter and never looked back. Westbrook shot 1-of-13 in that game to highlight the Lakers’ worst shooting game of the season (34.4%).

If Portland shoots 37.9% against the Lakers again as they did in November, this time it won’t be a win, especially not on the road where Portland has been abysmal this season. In road games, the Trail Blazers are 2-12, No. 23 in offensive rating, and No. 30 in defensive rating. Even the offensively-limited Lakers could light it up in this matchup. Portland is 3-18 when allowing more than 110 points this season.

In a 120-105 loss to Utah on Wednesday, Norman Powell matched Damian Lillard with a season-high 32 points. But the rest of the starters and bench barely scored as the Jazz led wire-to-wire despite not having their best player (Donovan Mitchell) active. While not as impactful as Davis can be, the Trail Blazers are missing their second-best player in C.J. McCollum as he continues to deal with a collapsed lung.

Prediction

The Lakers have as many double-digit losses (nine) as they have wins by more than six points this season. Los Angeles is also a league-worst 7-17 ATS as a favorite. That is all troubling from a betting standpoint, but Portland has been the worst spread bet in the NBA, including 2-9 ATS as an underdog.

Despite the disappointing season from the Lakers, James is still playing at a higher level than Lillard. I like him to have another huge game, the first after turning 37, and this time it produces a win for Los Angeles. Take the Lakers for your NBA picks to cover the final game in 2021.

NBA Pick: Lakers -6 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Lakers -6 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.