Well, didn’t take long to learn a couple of NBA wagering lessons. After just one night, it’s clear that the Heat are every bit the juggernaut they were last year when they won it all (120 points against the Celtics—with five players scoring in double figures?). It’s equally clear that the Lakers—considered the main challenger to Miami’s throne—have a long, steep hill to climb. After an 0-8 preseason that Lakers apologists deemed meaningless because, well, it’s the preseason, L.A. took the court at home last night against the Mavericks—the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavericks—and crapped on center court, losing 99-91 as an 8 1/2-point favorite (and the game wasn’t even that close). Not only did the retooled Lakers look very much like a work-in-progress, but coach Mike Brown once again proved he’s got as much business coaching the Lakers as Jack Nicholson.
Which brings me to this game tonight in Portland. How is that Los Angeles is favored here, especially playing a back-to-back on the road with a 38-year-old point guard who played 34 minutes last night, a 7-foot center who still isn’t fully recovered from offseason back surgery, and a 34-year-old Hall-of-Fame shooting guard with an injured foot and more miles on his body than Jenna Jameson? And then there’s the fact that the Lakers don’t exactly have a productive bench—something that’s kinda important when you’re playing your second game in 24 hours, and doing so in a hostile environment.
L.A., which lost 107-96 in its only visit to the Rose Garden last year, is just 11-28 ATS in its last 39 meetings with the Blazers. More startling, the Lakers have covered just four times in their 21 trips to Portland. Want another stat? Here you go: That 7-foot Lakers center with the bum back—the guy who fouled out last night after missing 11 of 14 free throws—averages just 16.5 points per game against the Blazers in his career. It’s Dwight Howard’s lowest scoring average against any Western Conference opponent
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Tuesday’s Result: Celtics +6.5 at Heat (loss)