LeBron James returns to Cleveland on Wednesday when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in a highly anticipated game that tips at 8 p.m. ET. The Lakers have bounced back from a rocky start to get to 9-7 overall, far better than the 2-13 Cavs. Sportsbooks list L.A. as a nine-point favorite in the latest Lakers vs. Cavaliers odds, with the over-under for total points is set at 221. Before you make any Lakers vs. Cavaliers picks, see what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say.
This advanced computer model simulates every game 10,000 times to come up with a projected final score and stat lines for every single player. It powered the three largest fantasy sites and has dominated NFL, college football, college basketball and other sports. Now, it has simulated every play of Lakers vs. Cavs 10,000 times.
We can tell you the model expects a higher-scoring game than Vegas is anticipating, projecting 222 points, just above the posted total. The model has also locked in a strong against-the-spread pick that hits nearly 60 percent of the time. You can only see that one at SportsLine.
The model knows that after a slow start, the Lakers are beginning to play like the title contender most expected they would be. They’ve won seven of their past nine games, including a 113-97 victory Sunday night against LeBron’s other former team, the Heat. James went off for 51 points in that one. He’s in the middle of another epic season, averaging 28.8 points on 52 percent shooting along with 7.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists.
The team’s turnaround has coincided with the play off the bench of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He has scored in double-figures five straight games, including 19 in the win over the Heat.
Just because the Lakers are trending upward doesn’t mean they’ll cover a large spread.
Cleveland clearly will be motivated with the return of James. While their two wins rank last in the NBA, the Cavs have been a far better team at home, including getting both of their victories there. That includes an impressive 113-89 victory over the Hornets last Tuesday.
Short-handed Cleveland has missed power forward Kevin Love and point guard George Hill, but other players have picked up the slack. Jordan Clarkson is averaging 15.4 points off the bench, while rookie point guard Collin Sexton is averaging 18.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists since joining the starting five.
The hustle has been there, too. Cleveland ranks sixth in offensive rebounds. One other potential key: The Cavs score a higher percentage of their points off two-pointers than any other team in the NBA, while the Lakers are near the bottom in allowing them.
Who wins Lakers vs. Cavaliers? And which side of the spread hits in nearly 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to get the strong against-the-spread pick for Lakers vs. Cavs, all from the advanced computer model that simulated this matchup 10,000 times.