Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM

NBA Betting Essentials, Odds and Angles for Sunday, March 1, 2020

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Top Game: Lakers (-2, 233.5) at Pelicans, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

It remains to be seen whether LeBron James will work for a second consecutive night after sitting out a game mid-week, but his sore groin will be on the minds of many on this opening day of March.

His Lakers (45-13, 35-26-1) looked flat for the first time since being routed in Philadelphia back on Jan. 25, finishing up a 9-2 February with a thud in a 105-88 loss in Memphis. Saturday night’s scoring output was L.A.’s lowest of the season. Frank Vogel said his team failed to match the host Grizzlies’ intensity.

After shooting just 9-for-36 from 3-point range, the Lakers will look to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since Jan. 31 by bouncing back on the second night of a back-to-back in New Orleans (26-33, 29-27-3). James gave no indication that he’d skip the game despite being listed as doubtful to play against the Griz and suiting up anyway. He aggravated the injury in Tuesday’s 118-109 win over the Pelicans at Staples in which he scored a season-high 40 points.

The Lakers failed to send a message to Memphis in a matchup against their potential first-round opponent but can rebound against another team they could potentially see in these Pels. James wants no part of having to chase around Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday’s defense or getting stuck behind special rookie Zion Williamson in the post to open a playoff series, so he’d love to add to their obstacles in reaching the postseason.

L.A. had won an NBA record 18 consecutive road games against Western Conference competition prior to Saturday’s loss in Memphis, so this might be a solid bounce-back spot if James suits up. Anthony Davis has been playing through multiple bumps and bruises, most recently hurting his elbow against the Pelicans, and is listed as ‘probable.’ Danny Green missed the loss to the Griz with a sore hip, so monitor his status as well. Alex Caruso started in his place for L.A. on Saturday night.

New Orleans won’t have shooter J.J. Redick due to a hamstring strain. Williamson scored 29 points in 33 minutes and is averaging 23.4 points per game on the season. He’s scored 28 or more points in four of the last six games, dominating around the rim and looking sharp next to James and Davis in his first career matchup against the Lakers. The Pelicans have dropped all three games against L.A. this season, covering once at home, pushing on Jan. 3 as a 10-point underdog and coming up just short in this week’s matchup, missing open 3-pointers and struggling offensively down the stretch after hanging around all night. The ‘under’ is 2-1 in the matchups between these teams and has connected in the last three games involving New Orleans. The low side is 4-1 over the past five featuring the Lakers.

Best of the Rest

76ers at Clippers (-12.5, 218.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Los Angeles (40-19, 31-27-1) crushed the Nuggets 132-103 on Friday to move into a tie for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. A big March could put the Clippers in position to potentially chase down the Lakers for a Pacific Division title, but it will start with tough road games at Oklahoma City and Houston next week before facing their Staples Center rooomies next Sunday. They’re an overwhelming favorite here due to Philadelphia (37-23, 27-32-1) arriving in town minus Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

The Sixers beat the Knicks on Thursday after losing in Cleveland, but begin a four-game road trip that will see them stay in town to face the Lakers on Tuesday before visits to Sacramento and Golden State. We’ll see who steps up to keep this from being a disastrous trip, but Tobias Harris finished with 34 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against New York and seems best-suited to lead the efforts against his former team. Philadelphia has dropped seven consecutive games and comes in 9-21 on the road. They last won away from home on Jan. 20.

Raptors at Nuggets (-5, 217.5), 6 p.m. ET

Denver (40-19, 28-28-3) hopes to bounce back from getting trounced by the Clippers and viewed the loss as a wake-up call. Toronto (42-17, 32-25-2) is opening a five-game Western swing after a suffering an upset at home against lowly Charlotte. Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka sat out the loss and center Marc Gasol remained sidelined, so check on availability of each of them as tip-off approaches.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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