The inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament Final is upon us, and it pits LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers against emerging MVP candidate Tyrese Haliburton and the Indiana Pacers. The final game of this successful first run of the tourney airs at 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Both teams went undefeated in tournament group play with the Lakers earning the number one seed in the West and the Pacers grabbing seed two in the East. Overall, Los Angeles is currently fourth in the West with a 14-9 record while Indiana is tied for fifth in the East at 12-8.
Bet on Pacers vs. Lakers
Pacers vs. Lakers odds
|Pacers Moneyline Odds
|Lakers Moneyline Odds
|243 points (over -110, under -110)
|Lakers -4.0 (-110)
|Odds To Win In-Season Tournament
|Lakers -175, Suns +155
|Dec. 9, 8:30 p.m. ET
|Broadcast: Sportsnet 1
Stream: NBA League Pass
(How to watch the NBA in Canada?)
About the Pacers (12-8 SU, 12-8 ATS, 16-4 o/u)
In a hotly anticipated matchup Thursday night, the Pacers held off the East’s top-seed Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 128-119. Indiana, as usual, was led by wunderkind Tyrese Haliburton who, while battling illness, scored 27 points to go along with 15 assists and seven rebounds. Centre Myles Turner exerted his own strong effort with 26 points and 10 boards. Haliburton hit his overs in points, assists, and rebounds but fell short of his three-point total of 4.5.
Though the Pacers have been on a tear through this tournament, Haliburton himself has been on a particularly remarkable streak. He’s scored at least 25 points in seven straight games during which time he’s averaged 12.7 assists and shot 36-80 (.450) from downtown. For the season, Haliburton leads the NBA in assists with over 12 a game and is 13th in scoring.
When the Pacers get solid contributions from a surprisingly deep roster, they are a force to be reckoned with. Players like Obi Toppin, Buddy Hield, and Bennedict Mathurin lead a supporting cast that has helped see the Pacers just three games out of first place in the East. The Pacers can score, having eight players average double digits in points per game, and as a team ranked first overall in assists, shooting percentage, and points.
It’s the defence that can cause problems for them; they are currently ranked 27th in the league, which helps to explain their 16-4 record hitting the over this season. Against Milwaukee, they gave up 37 points to Giannis Antetokounmpo, and in the game prior over 30 to both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
About the Lakers (14-9 SU, 11-12 ATS, 9-14 o/u)
The Lakers easily took care of their opponent in the West bracket final, the New Orleans Pelicans, 133-89. It was the Pelicans’ worst loss of the season as Los Angeles once again proved it got the better end of the Anthony Davis trade.
Father Time may have met his match in the incomparable LeBron James who became the first player in NBA history with at least 30 points, five assists, and five rebounds in less than 23 minutes of playing time. And he did it at 38 years of age, in his 21st season. His final stat line consisted of 30 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and a perfect 4-4 from three-point territory.
Five other Lakers reached double figures, led by Austin Reaves who bagged 17 and Anthony Davis with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Taurean Prince (15), D’Angelo Russell (14), and Rui Hachimura (12) rounded out the list of players hitting double digits.
Unlike the Pacers, Los Angeles prides itself on its defence, ranking second in the league in defensive rating over the last ten games. Against New Orleans, the Lakers’ impressive length and dedicated teamwork allowed them to contain Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and C.J. McCollum to 13, nine, and nine points respectively. It was the Pelicans’ lowest-scoring output since February of last season. After some early-season injuries, it looks like the team is hitting some real form.
Both the Lakers and the Pacers have repeatedly spoken about how important an In-Season Tournament Final win would be to them. Haliburton has made the tournament his own and calls it his first chance to really win something big at the NBA level. Meanwhile, LeBron James has made winning the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament Final an important goal of his Lakers this season. No matter what happens, we’re in for a show in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Anthony Davis (LAL) over 2.5 blocks
The Pacers will be without Andrew Nembhard which should lead to more playing time for Bennedict Mathurin and T.J. McConnell. The Lakers are expected to be missing the services of guard Gabe Vincent who has been out since early November.
- The Pacers have covered the spread in five of their last eight and in all six NBA In-Season Tournament games they’ve played in.
- The Lakers have covered the spread in four of their last five and all six of their NBA In-Season Tournament games as well.
- The Lakers have hit the Under in eight of their last 12 games.
- The teams are an even 5-5 head-to-head since 2018 when LeBron signed with Los Angeles.
Player prop trends
- LeBron James has shot better than 40% from beyond the three-point line in 11 of the last 14 games.
- Obi Toppin has reached the Over for points scored in seven of his last 10 games.
- D’Angelo Russell has gone Under for points scored in seven of his last 10 contests.
- Myles Turner has hit the Over for rebounds in eight straight games.
Wagers to consider
- Anthony Davis +2.5 blocks at +100 odds. Davis will be expected to exert even more dominance on the defensive end in this NBA In-Season Tournament final. He averages 2.7 blocks on the year and should have no problem clearing 2.5 in this one.
- Buddy Hield +2.5 threes at -135 odds. Look for Hield to bounce back from a dismal 0-6 outing in his last game. He’s made at least three from downtown in four of the Pacers’ six NBA In-Season Tournament games.
- SGP: Under 240.5, LeBron James Over 2.5 threes made, Tyrese Haliburton Over 45.5 points, assists, and rebounds at +685 odds. The Pacers’ last two games against the Bucks and the Celtics both hit the Under by at least ten points. The Lakers’ last three games have all hit the Under. Expect that trend to continue on Saturday. Meanwhile, James and Haliburton’s determination to win this tournament should bring out the best in these big-time performers.