Season-to-date record: 83-75-3, 53%
Laying the short chalk and backing the road cover: Lakers -1.5
The Lakers will travel to the Wizards Wednesday, in the fourth game since superstar center, Anthony Davis, has returned to L.A.'s line-up. The champs have struggled without their primary playmakers (LeBron James is still unavailable due to a high ankle sprain). The Lakers dropped three in a row SU/ATS before snapping their SU skid with an 11-point win at Orlando (which, by the way, was only good enough to for a push versus the closing spread).
We regard the (SU) success the Lakers enjoyed in Florida Monday as the start of a turnaround, are comfortable backing the previously reeling road favorites for the cover this afternoon.
In a piece rationalizing our play on the Sixers versus the Hawks, we detail a consistently profitable history-based system predicated on backing good favorites after tough patches, on evidence that a turnaround has commenced. As slight favorites, the Lakers fit the criteria for this framework. See here for details.
Across the court, the Lakers will face a Wizards team that, despite a 27-34 aggregate record, had managed eight consecutive wins, before coming up just short in a thrilling shootout versus the Spurs Monday evening. Almost as the mirrored inverse of our rationale for backing the Lakers cover, we regard Washington's stumble after a stint of superlative play as a signal to sell the Wizards high.
Historically, home teams that did not make the prior post-season have proven solid fades after runs of at least eight wins in ten games that ended with a loss.
This system is a disappointing 0-2 ATS so far this season, but has delivered a staggering 32% long-term return on investment since 2004, with cover rates below 50% in only four years over this term.
From a different angle, but also consistent with the idea that the Lakers get over the hump tonight, ESPN's Basketball Power Index makes L.A. more than five points better than Washington at a neutral venue. Fans though were welcomed back to Capital One Arena starting last week (at 10% of capacity), so some nominal adjustment might be warranted to account for the Wizards' home court advantage...maybe.
Bottom line: Our interpretation of historical context fits with the value on the road favorites insinuated by ESPN's Basketball Power Index and points squarely to a Lakers cover this afternoon. We are positioning accordingly.