NBA

NBA Betting: The LeBron experiment has proven nothing short of a disaster for the Lakers

March 8, 2019January 6th, 2022

Let the re-working of the script begin. Let the Hollywood re-writers re-draft, and re-imagine the ending.

A bit like LaLa Land, the conclusion comes not with the fable of a perfect romance but an unexpected jolt. The Lakers and LeBron James were supposed to conjure a blockbuster that was box office and pure joy. Instead, it has become a dark comedy – although no-one, save for their rivals, is actually laughing. 

With just 17 games of their NBA regular season remaining, the Oscar for Best Picture is not going to LA’s sporting goliaths. The first year with basketball’s pre-eminent superstar will likely not even trouble the playoff nominations, bar an extraordinary late twist.

It was “unfair”, LeBron says to expect too much, too soon. A rebuilding year, plus one, whispers state. With Wednesday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers have dropped ten of their last 14 games and are now 6.5 games off the Clippers (oh, cruel irony) in the race for the last playoff vacancy in the Western Conference.

Even if the Lakers were to go 13-4 in what is a tough close to the campaign, their neighbours would only need to run 6-10 to see them off. Easy pickings.

Before the campaign, we wondered if James’ switch to LA in search of further fame and fortune might bring his astonishing run of eight consecutive Finals appearances to a close. Now, it’s the unthinkable: that, for the first time since his sophomore year, his season is set to grind to a halt in April.

For so long, we’ve operated on the premise that LeBron operates at such a stratospheric level that he and eleven school kids could challenge for a title. His numbers this term – averaging 27.1 points, 8 assists and 8.6 rebounds – remain elite. His supporting cast have not.

No real shock in retrospect. Lots of one-year contracts spent on guys rejected elsewhere. Lots of unproven talent who we now know can flatter to deceive.

And James, less statuesque, even though he passed Michael Jordan for fourth place on the all-time scoring list on Wednesday. Before February, the Lakers were eighth-ranked in defensive efficiency. Ever since, last. With their marquee signing repeatedly caught by Twitter letting opponents simply blow by.

Losing to Denver is no disgrace. But reverses to Memphis, to Atlanta, in a must-win versus the Clippers. Unforgivable.

On Saturday, they welcome the resurgent Boston Celtics in the latest instalment of the NBA’s great historical rivalry.

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After losing four in a row, the C’s are firing with a blowout of the Golden State Warriors and an ice-cold defeat of Sacramento rekindling hope they might yet overhaul Philadelphia to pinch homecourt in the first round. Given their enhanced scoring, it’s worth looking over 218.5 total points in the clash.

Maybe this was designed to be a season of throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks as a complement for LeBron. Perhaps it was a disaster despite design.

In either way, the Lakers have committed the unpardonable sin of wasting one of the good years left of one of the greats.

The only good thing is that they will be put out of their misery soon.

Best bet: Take Boston by -5.5 over the LA Lakers