The first thing everyone needs to know heading into Tuesday night’s Lakers vs. Pelicans play-in game is that both teams might be better off losing. The winner of this game advances to the playoffs, where it will have to face the defending champion Denver Nuggets, while the loser would be in contention for a No. 8 seed and a matchup with Oklahoma City.Lakers vs Pelicans Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under - NBA Play-In Tournament Betting Lines 4/16/24

Moneyline: Lakers (-110), Pelicans (-110)
Spread: Lakers -1.5 (+100), Pelicans  -1.5 (-120)
Total: Over/Under 224.5 points

Lakers vs Pelicans Prediction and Pick

That could make for an interesting dynamic if both teams decide to tank. However, we do not expect to see that, because both teams know that if they are going to win a championship, they are going to have to defeat everyone in their way.

The Lakers have been in New Orleans since Saturday. They defeated the Pelicans on Sunday afternoon behind a triple-double from LeBron James and then learned that they would be the No. 8 seed and would be matched up against the seventh-seeded Pels.

So, we should expect all the Lakers players to enter this game a little heavier -- thanks to the cuisine in New Orleans -- and where things go from there is anyone’s guess. The trick in wagering on this one is to guess correctly, beginning with the notion that both teams will want to win, even though victory will lead to a first-round series against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.

While it is indeed true that the loser might be better off, that loser would still need to win a second game on Friday night against the Golden State Warriors or Sacramento Kings.

Best NBA Same-Game Parlay Picks Today for Lakers vs. Pelicans: 4-Leg Parlay Picks (+17000)

LeBron James, 35+ points (+550)

LeBron James has not scored 40 points since a visit to Brooklyn last month when he went 9-for-10 on 3-pointers, but he had 37 points two games ago against Memphis before going for his triple-double of 28 points, 17 assists, and 11 rebounds against New Orleans on Sunday.

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer tends to rise to the occasion, which is why he is a living legend in his 21st season and anyone would be foolish to wager against him. James scored at least 35 points just once in last year’s postseason, which saw the Lakers eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. However, he had at least 35 points eight times during the 2023-24 regular season, reaching 40 three times.

While the +1100 line on a 40-point game is enticing, we realize that James is not a great foul shooter (he made 75 percent of his attempts this season) and could finish a point or two shy of 40 if he misses a few on Tuesday. Since we are building a same-game parlay, we need everything to hit.

Leg-1 SGP Pick: LeBron James to score at least 35 points (+550)

Lakers +1 ½ points (-110)

This is a win-and-you’re-in game, and we do not wager against LeBron James in big games. Period. Taking the 1½ points allows for the possibility of a one-point loss by Los Angeles, which could happen if the Pelicans win the game on a buzzer-beater. So, once again, we exercise caution rather than taking the Lakers on the moneyline. The Pelicans have been one of the stronger teams in the West since Jan. 31, winning 24 of their final 36 games with Zion Williamson leading them in scoring in 13 of those games. They are now whole again with Brandon Ingram back and can keep this close or win. Still, we do not bet against LeBron.

Leg-2 SGP Pick: Lakers +1½ points (-110)

C.J. McCollum, 30+ points (+340)

C.J. McCollum was the Pelicans’ leading scorer in four of their final five regular-season games, and although Zion Williamson is probably the X-factor in this game because he is looking to make the playoffs for the first time in his career, there are others whose play will determine whether the Pels are postseason-bound Tuesday night or whether they have to try again on Friday. McCollum scored only 14 points a year ago in the 9-10 play-in game (Williamson was injured and did not play) that New Orleans lost to Oklahoma City, and redemption will be on his mind. He has played in 63 career playoff games, so this is not his first rodeo.

Leg-3 SGP Pick: C.J. McCollum to score 30 or more points (+340)

Jose Alvarado, 2+ steals (+310)

Jose Alvarado is the Pelicans’ secret weapon, even though his top-notch on-the-ball defense is not all that big of a secret among player-personnel people around the NBA. Two years ago, he was such a pest against Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns that he earned a cameo appearance on the TNT halftime show during the conference finals.  New Orleans general manager David Griffin has kept him around because of how valuable having a tenacious on-the-ball defender can be.

Leg-4 SGP Pick: Jose Alvarado to have at least 2 steals (+310)

Putting those four picks together produces a four-leg same-game parlay with odds of +17000, meaning a $10 wager would return $1,710, and a $100 wager would return $17,100, which can get you to New Orleans for the first round of the postseason and would include an extraordinary dinner at Commander’s Palace. Good luck!

Odds are subject to change*

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