NBA Expert Picks: Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Lakers

Philadelphia 76ers AT Los Angeles Lakers
December 31st, 2010 at 10:35 PM EST
Opening Line:  L.A. -10
Current Line:  L.A. -10
Opening Total:  195
Current Total: 195.5
Opening Moneyline:  L.A. -650 / Philadelphia +525
Current Moneyline:  L.A. -600 / Philadelphia +450

Kobe has struggled of late, averaging only 18 ppg over his last 5.

Philadelphia has played well of late, as winners of 6 of their past 10 games, but NBA Oddsmakers seem to have taken into account that Philadelphia remains a horrible road team with a 5-13 record away from the Wachovia Center.

The Lakers have cooled after a good start to the season, and like the Sixers have won 6 of their past 10 games.  They remain 10-4 at the Staples Center and Kobe Bryant continued to struggle in their victory last game over the New Orleans Hornets.  He shot better from the field (8 of 14), but played only 27 minutes and scored just 20 points.  It seems that the lineup change made a difference, as the Lakers brought Odom off the bench and started Bynum.  Odom responded with a strong game, scoring 24 points, and Bynum played well too (8 of 12 from the floor for 18 points), showing the genius of Phil Jackson once again.

Kobe commented, “We played much better. We executed much better. Our defense did an excellent job, (Bynum) makes a big difference plugging up the middle, rebounding. He’s moving better. … He seems to be more stable, more active.”

Last two times the teams met, the Lakers won 93-81, outscoring the Sixers 35-19 in the final quarter, but Iguodala held Kobe in check, allowing Bryant just 9 points.  Given Kobe’s recent struggles, it seems reasonable that the same could happen; that is, if Iguodala is able to go, he has been nursing an achilles injury.

Some Betting trends:

The total has gone UNDER in 7 Philadelphia’s last 10 games on the road and they have won only 5 of their last 19 on the road.  They are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 against the Lakers and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of the last 5 against the Lakers.  They have lost 6 of their last 7 against the Lakers and are 1-4 on the road in their last 5 against the Lakers.  They are 3-6 ATS in their last 9 road games against L.A. and the total has gone UNDER in 7 of the last 10 road games against the Lakers.

The total has gone UNDER in 16 of the Lakers’ last 21 games.  they are 9-4 over their past 13 games and 6-12 ATS in their last 18 games.  The total has gone UNDER in 6 of their last 7 at home and they have won 20 of their last 25 home games.  They are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games.

Key Matchups:

Kobe Bryant vs. Andre Iguodala and/or Evan Turner

If Iguodala is unable to go, expect Kobe to exploit rookie Evan Turner to the fullest.  If Iguodala is able to go, expect Kobe to continue to struggle.  It’s really that simple.  Kobe has historically struggled mightly (at least in terms of his usual production) against Andre Iguodala, who has the speed and length to stay in front of Kobe and then contest any and all shots he takes.  Iguodala isn’t much of a scorer and is averaging less points this season than last, but he is a decent shooter and good slasher and can help Philly on offense, though his main contribution is his lock down defense.

Lamar Odom/Andrew Bynum/Pau Gasol vs. Elton Brand/Thaddeus Young/Spencer Hawes

Obviously the Lakers’ front court trio has the huge advantage here, and the question really becomes:  “Can Philly hold the Lakers’ large front court in check at all?”  Brand is the only one with the toughness necessary to match up against them, but he lacks the size to do well against the all 6’10” and over L.A. frontline.  Thaddeus Young is undersized at power forward and Spencer Hawes is too soft.  Really, this trio vs trio is going to spell the doom of the Sixers and for them to have any shot, Brand/Young/Hawes are going to have to play basically the best games of their careers, and it is why NBA Oddsmakers have set the line so far in L.A.’s advantage, along with Philadelphia’s struggles on the road.

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