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Wizards at Lakers preview: Washington finishes stay in Los Angeles with matchup against LeBron James

For the first time, Kyle Kuzma faces the team where he started his career.

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is preparing for his first game against his old team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Friday night’s matchup pits the stumbling Washington Wizards against the staggering Los Angeles Lakers. Since the All-Star break, the Wizards are 2-4. The Lakers are 1-6.

The Lakers have been worse than the Wizards this season — at least in terms of record and scoring margin. In the standings, Los Angeles sits 9th in the less competitive Western Conference while Washington is 11th in the East. In strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin, the Wizards rank 23rd and the Lakers 24th.

These teams are not juggernauts.

Wizards at Lakers — Rankings

OFFENSE LAKERS WIZARDS
OFFENSE LAKERS WIZARDS
eFG% 12 17
tov% 24 11
reb% 26 25
ftm/fga 21 12
ORTG 24 23
DEFENSE LAKERS WIZARDS
eFG% 19 10
tov% 10 30
reb% 22 20
ftm/fga 13 26
DRTG 17 24

Neither team has been much good on offense this season, but neither team has been much good on defense either. And, the Lakers’ only defensive difference maker (Anthony Davis) will miss the game.

A couple contrasts could make things interesting. The Lakers have the league’s 7th worst offensive turnover percentage — the Wizards are 30th in forcing turnovers.

And, despite having the NBA’s oldest team, the Lakers are 4th in pace so far this season. The Wizards are middle of the pack in age and 23rd in pace.

The top storyline will be the first matchup between these teams since the offseason blockbuster trade that sent Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles and brought Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell to DC.

Expected Rotations

Wizards Starters

PG — Raul Neto

SG — Corey Kispert

SF — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

PF — Kyle Kuzma

C — Kristaps Porzingis

Bench

G — Ish Smith

G — Tomas Satoransky

F — Deni Avdija

F — Rui Hachimura

C — Daniel Gafford

Lakers Starters

PG — Russell Westbrook

SG — Malik Monk

SF — Austin Reeves

PF — Stanley Johnson

C — LeBron James

Bench

G — D.J. Augustin

G — Avery Bradley

F — Carmelo Anthony

F — Kent Bazemore

C — Dwight Howard

Talen Horton-Tucker is listed as day-to-day and could play.

DraftKings Odds

DraftKings Sportsbook odds indicate the bookmakers (and bettors) see the Lakers as the stronger team.

  • Spread: Lakers -4
  • Total (over/under): 228
  • Moneyline: Wizards +160; Lakers -190

Prediction Machine

My prediction machine has the Lakers with a 57% chance of winning, which is primarily due to having homecourt advantage. That’s not much different from the DraftKings line — making the Lakers four-point favorites implies a 62% chance of winning. My machine forecasts a total of 218 points. That would suggest taking the under, but the Wizards have tended to play in high-scoring games lately, so I’d go the other way.

In the category of Predictions Sure to Go Wrong, IF I was to wager on this game, I’d pick the Lakers to win, the Wizards to cover, and the total to exceed 228. Friendly reminder: Do not use these predictions as a basis for actual wagers.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.