Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#527 Los Angeles Lakers -4 vs.
#528 Portland Trail Blazers 221.5
Friday, December 6, 2019 at 10:35pm EST
Moda Center, Portland
Written by Nick Raffoul



#527 Los Angeles
#528 Portland


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The Los Angeles Lakers will head on the road to the Moda Center on Friday night as they get set to do battle with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers are off to one of the best starts in franchise history with a Western Conference-best 19-3 record through their first 22 contests. Meanwhile, Portland has also been trending up as of late and the Trail Blazers suddenly find themselves in the No. 9 spot in the West after winning four of their last five games. Can Portland pull off an upset at home against the mighty Lakers on Friday?

Rondo showing value with Lakers

Anthony Davis scored 26 points to help the Lakers cruise to a 121-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. LeBron James scored points and handed out 12 assists for the Lakers, who were up 18 points at halftime. Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds off of the bench, while Kyle Kuzma chipped in 13 points as part of a Lakers’ bench that scored 47 points in the blowout win.

When the Lakers brought back Rondo in the offseason, most people questioned his fit next to James and Davis, who Rondo played with previously in New Orleans. Rondo’s play on defense last year didn’t help matters either. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Lakers had a -8.1 efficiency differential with the veteran point guard on the floor. He ranked last on the team and No. 436 of 514 qualified players with a defensive rating of 113.3 last season.

However, he’s shifted the narrative this year, thriving on the floor next to James, who praised Rondo after the team’s win against the Jazz. Rondo and James have a +16.3 net rating in 147 minutes on the floor together this season. Perhaps even more remarkably, Rondo has shot 50 percent from 3-point range on 34 attempts while averaging 8.8 points and 6.1 assists in 21.5 minutes per game this season.

Anthony, Bazemore giving Blazers a boost

Portland bounced back with its fourth win in five games on Wednesday, knocking off the Sacramento Kings 127-116. CJ McCollum scored 33 points on 14-of-22 shooting while Hassan Whiteside had a throwback performance with 22 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks to propel Portland to victory. Damian Lillard finished with 24 points and 10 assists and Carmelo Anthony added 20 points with a +15 net rating in the win.

Maybe the Carmelo Anthony experiment isn’t going to be a complete failure in Portland after all. According to ESPN, the Trail Blazers have amended Anthony’s contract so that it becomes fully guaranteed for the remainder of the season. Anthony, 35, signed a non-guaranteed deal last month and was recently named Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 22.7 points and 7.7 rebounds while helping the Blazers go 3-0. Head coach Terry Stotts even went as far as calling Anthony “a breath of fresh air” for the Blazers, who are showing signs of turning things around following a disastrous start.

Swingman Kent Bazemore has also been a welcome addition for the Blazers, giving them some defensive versatility off of the bench. His value was on full display against the Kings, as he scored 15 points off the bench to give the second unit a boost. Bazemore has shot 35.5 percent from 3-point range while averaging nearly one block and one steal per game in just 22.3 minutes per contest.

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The Trail Blazers have been on the up-and-up as of late but most of their wins have come against below-.500 teams. Portland gets a chance to make a statement here against the Lakers, who are tied for the NBA’s best record at 19-3. After a slow start, it looks like Anthony might be the floor-stretching power forward that the Blazers have needed in recent seasons and Hassan Whiteside has filled in admirably at the center position. Portland has flashed improvement on defense over their last five games and they rank fifth in the league in offensive efficiency during that span. Take the Trail Blazers to cover the number at home against Los Angeles on Friday night.

Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers +3.5

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These two teams are projected for 221.5 points but that number could be a bit high considering how good the Lakers have been defensively over their past two games. Los Angeles is fresh off of allowing 96 points in back-to-back games against the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. The Lakers rank third in the NBA in defensive efficiency and 20th in the league in pace, so this could turn into more of a low-scoring affair. Take the under in this Western Conference battle on Friday night.

Prediction: Over 221.5

Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.