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The New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers are both one win away from representing the Western Conference in the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament final.
The Pelicans are only two games above .500 on the season but are streaky and getting healthy for the first time. The Lakers are a more experienced group but also have their battles with inconsistency, though they produced a gutsy win in their semifinal matchup against the Phoenix Suns.
We’ve assembled our favorite picks and prop bets into a same-game parlay for the Pelicans vs. Lakers In-Season Tournament finale. Which team will advance to play the winner of the Indiana Pacers-Milwaukee Bucks matchup, and which players will stand out? Here are our picks.
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LeBron James under 28.5 points
C.J. McCollum 4+ assists
Anthony Davis 10+ rebounds
Under 230.5 points
LeBron was excellent in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinal against the Suns, scoring 31 points as part of a 31/11/8/5 masterclass. However, the Suns’ defense is weak, and the Pelicans have much better individual matchups with the likes of Herb Jones, Trey Murphy, Brandon Ingram, and others. This game is also likely to be played at a slower pace, which will lower LeBron’s scoring chances, and we expect to see him as more of a facilitator.
McCollum averages six assists and recorded 5+ assists in every game he appeared in this season. This is what we would consider the safest leg in the parlay, especially since the Lakers just allowed the Suns to shoot better than 49% from the field and 48% from three their last time out.
Davis has been a monster on the glass, averaging 12.6 boards (second in the Association) and bringing down 10+ in 10 straight games. The Pelicans are only 19th in rebound percentage and don’t have anybody who averages double-digit boards, and we expect Davis to continue his dominance on the interior.
If both teams could pick, they’d want this to turn into a defensive battle. The Pels have outstanding individual defenders, and the Lakers are one of the most disruptive and disciplined teams in the league (first in fewest fouls per game). The teams also play at slower paces and should slow down even further because of the importance every possession holds in a playoff-like atmosphere.
The Lakers are inconsistent and showed that even during their impressive win against the Suns, whether it be D’Angelo Russell sitting for most of the second half or Anthony Davis scoring seven second-half points, but they’re still a more polished team that can defend the interior better than practically any team in the league. This should be a long, hard-fought struggle, but the Lakers are poised to advance to the championship game.
Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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