The Daily Sweat: It's possible Lakers remind us of their greatness against Warriors in play-in game

·5 min read

It's conceivable the Los Angeles Lakers' season will end Friday night, without one game in the actual playoffs. And yet, they're still favored to win the West. 

As we head into the play-in game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night — it's possible this will be the most interesting matchup in the play-in format for many, many years — most of the early betting action was on the Warriors. The Lakers opened as 6.5-point favorites and dropped to 4.5 at BetMGM before a rebound to 5.5 on Tuesday night. 

The Warriors, who have been playing well, look like reasonable underdogs. Yet, again, go back to the Lakers being favored to win the West without even being in the playoff bracket yet. It's entirely possible that the story at the end of Wednesday night is something along the lines of, "That's right, the Lakers are an unstoppable force when they're healthy." 

When you have LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the same team, along with some good role players around them, they're always a threat to run through the league and win a title. There's justifiable skepticism over how long it'll take the Lakers to knock off the rust, considering James and Davis both missed significant time, but elite talent erases a lot of issues. 

The Warriors look like a good underdog play on Wednesday night. They've been on a nice roll and Stephen Curry can shoot his team into any game. There's a reason a lot of the early action was on Golden State. And yet, anyone with a Warriors ticket has to understand that perhaps we'll just be reminded that even as a No. 7 seed in the playoffs, the Lakers are still the team to beat. 

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and his team are still favored to win the West. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and his team are still favored to win the West. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)

Here's a look at what's going on in the sports betting world heading into Wednesday's games: 

Grizzlies-Spurs kick it off

The Grizzlies taking on the Spurs doesn't quite have the cache of LeBron vs. Steph, but it's still a game in which the loser's season is over. 

Memphis is a 3.5-point favorite. Neither team covered itself in glory late in the season. The Spurs lost 10 of 12 straight up to finish the regular season. Memphis had a 4-9 mark against the spread to finish the season and in a finale that meant something, they spent most of the game hopelessly chasing Golden State. The Grizzlies do have some fun, young talent and that might be enough to get a win and a cover, but it's not like you can feel too confident with either team in Wednesday's play-in opener. 

Who cashed tickets on Tuesday? 

Well, if you had the Pacers in the play-in opener, you had your easiest win of the week. Despite late news that Caris LeVert would be out, the Pacers absolutely demolished the Hornets. They were up 30 after the third quarter. 

The Celtics' win wasn't much harder. Russell Westbrook strangely disappeared in the second half, Jayson Tatum went off and Boston cruised to a win over the Wizards as small favorites. 

A Penguins-Golden Knights zig-zag parlay (more on this later) was a winner, though the Tampa Bay Lightning didn't cooperate, winning their second straight game over the Florida Panthers to take a 2-0 series lead. 

It was a rough night for bullpens, as the White Sox suffered a bad ninth-inning loss to the Twins, and the Astros gave up runs in each of the last four innings to blow a win to the A's. Oh, and there was another no-hitter, though that barely is going to register anymore. 

What are we betting on this afternoon? 

Finally, some midday baseball this week. There are two MLB matinees, with the White Sox trying to rebound against the woebegone Twins at 1:10 p.m. ET and the last-place Rockies facing the Padres at 4:10 p.m. Hey, nobody said they were good games. 

There's also one of the weirdest things going in sports, as the Canucks and Flames prepare to play again at 3:30 p.m. ET. The NHL playoffs have been going on for days, but these two teams are playing out the string of regular-season games to determine draft lottery status. It's absolutely bizarre, impossible to handicap, and their seasons mercifully end after Wednesday's farce. If you want to bet on something absurd, this is even stranger than preseason football action. 

There's also a six-pack of English Premier League games, if you're looking to put off that work project. 

Who are the zig-zag bets for NHL? 

Through the NHL and NBA playoffs you'll hear references to zig-zag betting here. It's as easy as it gets: Bet on the team that just lost the previous game in a series. It's a logical, simple and often successful method. 

There are four NHL games Wednesday night, and here are your three zig-zag candidates: Capitals (+145), Predators (+165), Blues (+240). The Jets and Oilers will be playing Game 1. The Avalanche looked very good in beating the Blues in Game 1 and might just roll St. Louis, but the other two underdogs are worth a look. 

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