It’s not the late 1980s or 2004, and it’s not the NBA Finals anymore, but two bitter inter-conference rivals will meet in Los Angeles today. The 5-2 Detroit Pistons and 2-4 Los Angeles Lakers will square off, as each squad is hoping to get back to its former glory (10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on NBATV).
Detroit has been excellent early this season. It has gotten strong play on both ends of the floor from its core four of Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson and Avery Bradley. It is coming off an amazing road win against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
Los Angeles has played at a breakneck pace so far this season, but its defense has surprisingly fared much better than its offense. We’ll see if the squad can start to knock down more shots against the Pistons.
In this NBA preview, we’ll focus on a few keys to the game before suggesting our betting predictions and picks for the American sportsbooks’ posted spread and over/under points total.
Can the Lakers Stay Competitive in the Turnover Battle?
The biggest difference in the two starts for these teams is ball protection. The Lakers aren’t prioritizing possessions as they should, while the Pistons are being very careful with the ball.
Los Angeles has committed the second-most turnovers per game (19.2) so far, while Detroit is tied for the fewest (13.9). To make things even more extreme, the Pistons are even forcing more turnovers per game (18.3) than the Lakers are (17.5).
The Lakers’ youth needs to play beyond its years to prevent the Pistons from taking advantage of them. Detroit, meanwhile, can’t play down to its competition by being careless with the ball.
Has the Pistons’ Stanley Johnson Found His Groove in the Starting Lineup?
Johnson was a much-hyped rookie in the 2015 NBA draft class. However, his career hasn’t progressed nearly as well as most people expected.
He started this season as a starting lineup, but put up very poor numbers in the first four contests: 5.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.8 fouls per game on a 38.2 true shooting percentage. Since then, he has kicked those numbers up to 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 fouls on a 57.8 true shooting percentage in his last three contest.
Is the 21-year-old finally finding his niche in the NBA? The rest of the Pistons starting lineup is an offensive threat, and Detroit’s starting group becomes very tough to defend if all five members are capable scorers.
Can Lonzo Ball Find the Shooting Range Against NBA Defenses?
The Lakers’ hyped rookie point guard has good stats on the surface, with 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game through six contests. However, he’s also averaging 3.5 turnovers per contest and, even worse, shooting just 31.1 percent from the field and 28.1 percent from three-point range. If you take out his one hot-shooting game against the Phoenix Suns’ miserable defense, those percentages dip to 23.4 and 21.7, respectively.
Ball was insanely efficient at UCLA last season, draining 55.1 percent of his field-goal attempts and 41.2 percent of his long balls on high volume. Clearly, he’s having trouble adjusting to NBA defenses, and he’s probably a bit nervous with all the hoopla surrounding him.
Los Angeles’ 20-year-old point guard should settle in at some point. Will it be against Detroit’s Reggie Jackson, who isn’t known for his defense? We will see.
Our Preview’s Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers Betting Picks & Predictions
The Pistons seem to be finding a groove, while the Lakers are a young team with a lot of new pieces to integrate. They strike me as a team that will find an identity later in the year, while the Pistons’ continuity makes them a team that could make hay early on.
- According to most betting sites, the Pistons are 4-point favorites. Bovada, 5Dimes, Bookmaker, MyBookie and BetOnline all have best odds of Pistons -4pts @ -110, so place your bets with any of them.
- The Pistons like to play at a slow pace, and the Lakers offense is inefficient. The signs here point to a game that is slightly more on the low-scoring side. Take the under 209pts @ -110 with Bovada. The other bookies have a lower spread or worse odds.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.