Oddsmakers expect LeBron James to lead Lakers back to playoffs

Updated August 6, 2018 - 8:00 pm

The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t made the NBA playoffs since 2013, when they were swept in the first round by San Antonio.

The Spurs own the longest active playoff streak, at 21 consecutive seasons, in any major North American pro sports league.

Based on NBA regular-season win totals posted Sunday, the oddsmakers at the Westgate sports book expect both of those streaks to end in 2019.

The Lakers, who finished 35-47 last season, have a win total of 48.5 — tied with the Utah Jazz for fourth-most in the Western Conference — as they embark on the first year of the LeBron James era in Los Angeles.

James helped the Miami Heat improve by 11 wins in his first season with the team in 2010-11 and the Cleveland Cavaliers bettered their record by 20 wins in his return to the franchise in 2014-15.

The Westgate projects the LeBron-led Lakers to improve by 13.5 wins in the loaded Western Conference.

“Now that’s he’s going to the West, it’ll be a tougher go night in and night out,” Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman said. “We have to balance what he’ll do with the youngsters’ growth and all the new players on the team. It’ll probably take a little while to get going out of the gate.”

SHORT DESCRIPTION (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

After being 10-1 underdogs to make the playoffs last season, Los Angeles is a 5-1 favorite to make the postseason next year.

Rusty Spurs

San Antonio hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1997, the season before Tim Duncan arrived. Despite the Spurs acquiring All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan from the Raptors in a trade for Kawhi Leonard, who missed all but nine games last season, their win total of 43.5 ranks ninth in the West.

“You just have to look at how tough the West is and the makeup of their team,” Sherman said. “DeRozan shoots more 2s than 3s, (LaMarcus) Aldridge doesn’t play a modern NBA style and Pau Gasol is a year older. They’re an older team.”

Warriors tops again

Two-time defending NBA champion Golden State has the highest win total, at 62.5, after finishing 58-24 last season, well below their win total of 67.5.

“We had to drop (their total) just because of how they treat the regular season. The past few years, they haven’t put too much premium into the regular season,” Sherman said. “They know the whole prize is the postseason.”

Regressing Rockets

Houston is tied with the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors with the league’s third-highest total, at 54.5.

The Rockets went 65-17 last season before losing Trevor Ariza in free agency. They’re expected to add Carmelo Anthony, but Sherman believes they will take a step back.

“They had everything go right for them last year to hit a number like that,” he said. “The West is going to be tougher and you have to expect that regression. We thought higher of that team last year.”

Soaring Celtics

The Celtics have the highest total in the East and second-highest overall, at 57.5, with the returns of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Boston went 55-27 last season.

“When you’re in the upper 50s, that’s a lofty number to get over. Outside of the Warriors, we don’t tend to go over 60 too often,” Sherman said. “When you get in the upper 50s, you tend to see some sharps play under. It takes a lot to get over large numbers like that.”

Rising Suns

Phoenix was the only team that saw its opening win total move, from 28.5 to 29.5, after a $2,000 limit bet.

The Westgate also took $1,000 wagers on the Lakers (under), Spurs (under) and Timberwolves (over 44.5).

More betting: Follow all of our sports betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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