The Lakers have nothing to play for in the second of a back-to-back on Friday as they make their only visit to Detroit, while it means plenty for the Pistons.
NBA Point Spread and Betting Analysis
The Detroit Pistons have made the playoffs just once this decade, losing in the first round in 2016, but appear to be in good shape to play extra basketball this April. They could finish anywhere from sixth to eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Assuming Toronto finishes second in the East behind Milwaukee, shouldn’t Raptors fans be rooting for the Pistons to finish seventh? That would set up a first-round playoff matchup between the franchises, who have only met in the postseason once. And it’s a short trip from Toronto to Detroit for those who perhaps can’t get tickets for the Raptors home games in the series.
The Lakers, who lost in Toronto on Thursday, could sit out a key player or two here with the season already gone and it being the second game in 24 hours.
Detroit has won its past three at home vs. the Lakers but lost in Los Angeles on Jan. 9, 113-100. LeBron James was out injured then and Kyle Kuzma had a career-high 41 points (in just three quarters) for L.A. Kuzma grew up not far from Detroit in Flint, Mich. Detroit’s top duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond struggled. Griffin led with 16 points but had zero rebounds for the first time in his career. Drummond was just 2-for-12 for six points.
The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers were 111-98 losers in Toronto on Thursday, their ninth straight defeat to the Raptors. Los Angeles had only 14 fourth-quarter points and hit just 7-for-31 from deep overall. LeBron had 29 points but no other starter more than 13. Kuzma struggled with just seven on 3-for-11 shooting. There has been talk the Lakers will not play LeBron in both ends of a back-to-back so there’s a chance he sits this one out. It’s also pretty clear that if LeBron wants to play, he’s going to. Would he deprive the fans of Detroit their only chance to see him in person? The Lakers have failed to cover their past four Friday games.
It’s possible that no team in the NBA has played worse back-to-back games this season than the Pistons this week. They were destroyed 103-75 on Monday in Brooklyn when Detroit shot just 27.8 per cent from the field, the lowest by any team in the NBA since November 2015. Things were no better Wednesday in a 108-74 loss in Miami. The Pistons shot 35.1 per cent and were outscored 33-8 in the third quarter; they missed their first 11 shots of the quarter as Miami went on a 21-0 run. Drummond’s streak of double-doubles ended at 19 in a row, which is tied for the franchise record. He had five points and nine rebounds before fouling out. What makes this two-game slide perplexing for the Pistons is they were playing some of the best basketball in the East since the break. However, Detroit has covered seven straight at home.