Game: Los Angeles Lakers @ Atlanta Hawks
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Odds: Lakers +7, Hawks -7
If the current rumor mill is true, tonight’s Lakers-Hawks matchup could be LeBron James’ final appearance in Atlanta in a Lakers uniform. Los Angeles has underperformed for much of this season and it has taken a toll on the four-time NBA MVP. The Lakers have the second-worst record of any of his teams through 35 games with a record of 14-21. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers had a worse record in his rookie year, going 11-24.
The Lakers are 3.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors for a spot in the play-in tournament and have the third-worst record in the Western Conference. On their current five-game road trip, the Lakers are 1-2. James has said that he doesn’t want to end up playing on losing teams. He believes he can still compete for championships.
James, who is averaging 27.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game, had 27 points in the Lakers’ 112-98 loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday. He has averaged 27.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in 60 career games against Atlanta.
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder, Atlanta’s top draft pick (at No. 17 overall) in 2013, spent his first five seasons with the Hawks and managed to score 15 points against the Heat despite having a sore left foot. In 21 games this season, he’s averaging 10.5 points per game.
In their 108-107 loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday, the Hawks were without three starters: leading scorer Trae Young (calf contusion), leading rebounder Clint Capela (calf strain), and De’Andre Hunter (ankle sprain). Young averages 27.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. On a team that scores 114.3 points per game, the injured trio contributes 54.3 points.
Dejounte Murray led Atlanta with 24 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. John Collins added 21 points and eight rebounds, and Onyeka Okongwu added 18 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.
In Capela’s absence, Okongwu, the team’s first-round pick in 2020, has performed admirably. In the six games since Capela’s injury, he has averaged 12.0 points and 9.3 rebounds, up from his season averages of 8.8 points and 7.0 rebounds. Okongwu has remained consistent, which the Hawks will need tonight against the Lakers. Despite having foot pain on Wednesday, Jalen Johnson played and matched his previous season-high of 14 points.
This is the first meeting this season between the two teams. Last season, the teams split their two-game series, with each team winning on their home court. The Lakers are 1-5 SU in their last six games and 1-6 ATS in their last seven. LA is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games against the Hawks and 4-2 SU in the last six in Atlanta.
The Hawks are 4-8 SU and ATS in their last 12 games. They are 2-4 ATS in their last six games at home. The Over has trended for both teams. The total has gone Over in five of the Lakers’ last six games and seven of the Hawks’ last 10. The total opened at 233.5 and has risen to 237.5.
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