Lakers vs. Pelicans NBA Preview

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans on March 18, 2021 in Portland, Oregon.  Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans on March 18, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP

Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Smoothie King Center

The Lakers lost to the Suns on Sunday 111-94 without their two star players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Neither is expected back anytime soon. This Lakers team will now look to hold off the Pelicans who have won three of their last five games with wins over the Clippers and Nuggets in that stretch.

The Lakers typically don’t have the best offense. They’re scoring 112.7 points per 100 possessions. Now they’re without James and Davis. However, the Lakers do have an effective field goal percentage of 54.7 percent and get to the line at a high rate. Except, the Lakers are turning the ball over 14.9 percent of the time and are average at rebounding on the offensive end.

In the game against the Suns, it was Montrezl Harrell that stepped up for a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers scored just 18 points in the second and fourth quarters and didn’t start the game off too well to begin with. Kyle Kuzma was the main passer with six assists but overall it was a totally different team without the current favorite to win MVP, LeBron James.

The Lakers have dominated defensively this season with James on their side. They’ve allowed just 107 points and a 52.3 percent effective field goal percentage from opponents this season. Los Angeles is above average in forcing turnovers and does a solid job on the defensive glass and limit fouls well.

The only problem here is that the Pelicans are the best team in the NBA when it comes to offensive rebounding and get to the line at a high rate. New Orleans is scoring 116.7 points per 100 possessions and has an effective field goal percentage of 55.2 percent this season.

They’re led by Zion Williamson who is averaging 25.7 points per game this season along with seven rebounds and 3.4 assists. Brandon Ingram has chipped in for 23.9 points along with 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.

The center, Steven Adams hasn’t contributed a whole lot on offense but does bring down 9.2 rebounds per game and is a force inside when utilized correctly.

The defense has been the problem for the Pelicans who are allowing 117.4 points per 100 possessions and an opponent effective field goal percentage of 56.6 percent. They won’t get a high amount of turnovers but they’ll rebound well and limit foul shots for the most part.

At this point, it’s hard to trust the Lakers without James after the way they looked against the Suns. Until James is back, it’s hard to argue the Lakers and these stats are not reality reflective of what we’ll see out on the floor this season.

Prediction

The Pelicans need all the wins they can get at 18-24 on the season and this is one that they can win. The Pelicans should be able to dominate the glass and while they haven’t defended well this season, the Lakers are down to Harrell when it comes to star players on this roster.

I wouldn’t be worried about the Pelicans’ defense and believe the offense will take over and perform well against a Lakers defense that really isn’t all that without James.

NCAAB Pick: Pelicans -6.5 (-110) at 888sport

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