Howard can lead Lakers to a 1-0 series lead against faltering Spurs
The Los Angeles Lakers (45-37) can push the San Antonio Spurs (58-24) all the way in Texas, and may well fancy their chances of going 1-0 up in the series. They are 7/2 to win on the night, while San Antonio are 2/9 to take a series lead on homecourt.
The Spurs have dropped their last three matches, and seven of their last 10 overall, while LA have won five straight to make the playoffs, even leapfrogging Rockets in the process.
The Lakers went 28-12 over the second half of the regular season, and have taken eight straight games against opponents from the Southwest Division.
While undeniably the superior outfit on their day,San Antonio are harbouring fitness concerns. Manu Ginobili has played just once since returning from a hamstring injury, and has shot just 25 for 84 (29 per cent) in his last 10 contests. In addition, Tony Parker has yet to find his form since returning from a four-game absence owing to a sore neck, ankle and shin.
San Antoniotook two of the three matchups this term, however the Lakers won the last meeting 91-86 in their first game without Kobe. Dwight Howard bagged 26 points at 17 rebounds in that game on April 15th, while the Lakers restricted Tony Parker to just 1-for-10 shooting.
While much has been made of the Achilles injury sustained to leading scorer and franchise leader Kobe Bryant, Mike D’Antoni’s Lakers are enjoying something of a purple patch; the veteran guard’s absence has seen a notable increase in output from centre Dwight Howard (17.1ppg, 12.4rpg), on both offense and defence.
Should the Lakers fall short on the outright at the AT&T Centre, they will certainly appeal at 10/11 on a +8.5 handicap: The Spurs have failed as favourites on the handicap in 12 of their last 14 matches.
Aside from their recent win overSan Antonio, their other two encounters were extremely tight affairs. Gregg Popovich’s men triumphed 84-82 in LA and 108-105 inTexas, suggesting that the Lakers look the smarter bet on the stated line.
The Total Points line for this game is 189.5, and it is worth noting that all three of the regular season clashes ended under the line.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing