2020 NBA Playoffs: Lakers vs. Rockets odds, picks & predictions for Game 4 (Sept. 10)

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

September 10th, 2020

The 2020 NBA Playoffs began with two No. 1 seeds, and now, not even halfway through we are left with just one. With the Milwaukee Bucks losing 4-1 to the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers are left to carry the torch. Interestingly, the Lakers are not even favored to win the Western Conference. That's because the Lakers are facing a tougher second-round opponent in the Houston Rockets than their crosstown rivals and current favorites, the Los Angeles Clippers.

Let's dig into tonight's matchup in Orlando and determine whether the Lakers or Rockets will come out on top.

Lakers vs. Rockets odds

Los Angeles Lakers
O 218.5
Houston Rockets
U 218.5

Lakers came alive late in Game 3

On Tuesday night, the Lakers and Rockets faced off in Game 3 with the Lakers pulling away late to win 112-102 and cover their second spread in as many games. The game was tied going into the fourth quarter, but a disappointing offensive performance in the fourth from the Rockets sealed their fate. In that deciding quarter, the Rockets shot just 41% from the field and made only two three-point shots. The Lakers, meanwhile, shot 60% in the final quarter as they pulled away.

Leading into the fourth quarter, things had been fairly even. Both teams played well, with the Lakers shooting 62.2% from the field in the first half and still being down three. LeBron James led the way with 29 points in the first half while only finishing with 36 for the game. Veteran Rajon Rondo carried the team in the final half with a mildly shocking 15 points, including 3-of-4 from three. Do not expect Rondo to continue to shoot 75% from three for the remainder of this series or in Game 4.

Westbrook's poor shooting continues to hurt the Rockets

While Russell Westbrook played a better Game 3 than Game 2, he still posted an identical -14 plus/minus rating for his team when he was on the court. Despite a slightly improved shooting percentage, it remains indefensible that in the second half of a critical game, Westbrook took 12 shots in the second half to James Harden’s seven.

In this year’s NBA playoffs, Harden is one of the most effective scorers as the ball-handler out of the pick and roll, with the Rockets scoring 1.15 points per possession. With Westbrook as the ball-handler out of the pick and roll, the Rockets score just 0.65 points per possession. The Lakers, meanwhile, continue to play into the Rockets’ hands from a personnel perspective with Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee, and Markieff Morris all getting limited to no minutes in Game 3. Fortunately for L.A., the Rockets continue to falter late in managing the personnel advantage they have created.

Houston has done a superb job covering the spread

In Game 4, the Lakers are again favored by 5 points. The Rockets still present matchup problems, and bettors and supporters alike will be rooting for them to recognize their advantages and play to them. The Rockets have outscored the Lakers in six of the 12 quarters thus far in this series and things appear relatively equal. And while they are 1-2 ATS in this series, the Rockets are 17-8 ATS as underdogs in their last 25 games. I’ll take the points again.

NBA pick: Rockets +5