Perhaps no team has suffered a bigger gut-punch injury this season than the Indiana Pacers as any realistic chance they had of winning the Eastern Conference ended when All-Star guard Victor Oladipo went down with a season-ending knee injury without contact in a Jan. 23 home win over the Raptors.
NBA Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Nothing short of a devastating loss; the Pacers should still make the playoffs comfortably in the weak Eastern Conference but probably fall out of the Top 4 and are one-and-done in the post-season. You don’t want to say an injury like that could help the Raptors, but it probably would if Toronto were to face Indiana in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers haven’t largely been the same since the injury, which is understandable.
The Lakers go for the season sweep as they beat visiting Indiana 104-96 on Nov. 29. LeBron James – who finally returned from a groin injury suffered on Christmas last Thursday – dominated with 38 points, 12 in the final five minutes. He also had nine rebounds and seven assists. No other Laker had more than 14 points. Indiana didn’t have Oladipo then due to another injury and no Pacers starter had more than 14 points.
The home team has covered the past four in the series.
Los Angeles Lakers
Thought we were done wondering if LeBron would play in a game due to his groin injury. James returned from that last Thursday and was terrific in a win over the Clippers. Why the Lakers let James play 40 minutes, though, is a bit puzzling. He was then too sore to go Saturday night in a loss at the Warriors. Seems like LeBron does play here and he’s listed as probable.
There are rumours that Coach Luke Walton is on a very hot seat, and those rumours only intensified after an alleged “emotionally-charged” exchange between Walton and a few veterans (not LeBron) following Saturday’s loss. Apparently, a few guys took exception to Walton saying they were playing selfishly. If LeBron wants Walton gone, he’ll be gone. The Lakers have covered just five of their past 22 vs. the East.
This starts a season-long six-game homestand for the Pacers, but they are on the second of a back-to-back after winning 109-107 at very short-handed New Orleans on Monday to close a four-game trip at 2-2. They lost their first four after the Oladipo injury (not including game he was hurt) but perhaps have come to grips with it by winning two in a row.
Darren Collision, being counted on to score more in the wake of the injury, had 22 points, including a key late three-pointer, in the win over the Pelicans. Domantas Sabonis had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Indiana is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 after a win.