The Indiana Pacers (12-8) meet the Los Angeles Lakers (14-9) in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night for the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship game. The Lakers are 4-point favorites while the over/under is set at 240.
Although sifting through Saturday's lines, totals, and player props can be overwhelming, various advanced statistics can help narrow the choices. numberFire's NBA power rankings and daily projections paired with advanced stats from the NBA can help give the inside track to winning big.
While utilizing some of the mentioned tools, which NBA odds from FanDuel Sportsbook look like the best bets for the In-Season Tournament Championship?
Please note lines are subject to change after this article is published.
All signs point toward an instant classic in the finale of the NBA's inaugural In-Season Tournament.
In one corner, you have the Lakers. Fresh off a Western Conference Finals appearance and led by a pair of future Hall of Famers in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, LA looks the part of a Finals contender yet again. Through 23 games, the Lakers sit fourth place in the Western Conference. They're just 22nd in offensive rating but are seventh in defensive rating. On top of that, the Lakers rank ninth in defensive rebound rate (72.4%) and 15th in total rebound rate (50.2%).
Then, in the opposite corner, you have the Pacers. The seventh-youngest team in the league has been one of the best stories of the season. Led by rising superstar Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana has utilized a breakneck pace to climb to sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers come in with the best offensive rating but the third-worst defensive rating. That likely has something to do with their league-leading pace.
LA and Indiana play different styles of basketball, with the Lakers relying more on their defense versus the Pacers preferring to win on the offensive end.
However, the Lakers are well-equipped to get out and run, ranking 10th in pace. For as good as Indiana is on offense in transition, they're poor at defending the break themselves. The Pacers allow the sixth-most points per possession and eighth-highest effective field goal percentage (63.4%) in transition.
If the Lakers can hang with the Pacers on the break, I don't see how they lose this game because of their advantage underneath. Indiana is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, and they can get bullied by more physical teams. They rank just 26th in total rebound rate (48%) and 25th in rebound differential (-3.7). They've been out-rebounded in all but two of their eight losses and have averaged a -9.7 rebound differential in losses.
It's been a fun run for the Pacers, but I think their lack of defense and rebounding will do them in on Saturday night. The Lakers are well-equipped to hang with Indiana on offense, and they're simply too big and physical for them to handle on the glass and down low. It should be close, but I like LA to pull ahead and cover this 4.0-point line in the end.
I think it's safe to say that LeBron is enjoying the In-Season Tournament.
Through six IST games, LeBron is averaging 26.8 points and 8.2 assists per game. He's put together an otherworldly 72% true shooting percentage, thanks largely to nailing 20 of 35 triples. That stellar efficiency has me eyeing LeBron James Over 2.5 Made Threes (+128), but the safe play lies with his points and assists.
He's averaged exactly 35 combined points and assists in the IST but put up 41 and then 38 (in just 23 minutes) in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals.
There's no reason he shouldn't eclipse 37 combined points and assists against one of the most stat-friendly defenses in the league.
According to FantasyPros' Defense Vs. Position chart, Indiana has allowed the fourth-most points (23.5) to opposing small forwards and the second-most to opposing power forwards (27.6). In general, the Pacers have struggled to defend bigger wings. Both Giannis Antetokounmpo (37 points) and Jayson Tatum (32) eclipsed 30 points against them in the prior two rounds, so I'd be shocked to see the red-hot James kept quiet.
But even if he doesn't have the most efficient night himself, there's a chance his passing pushes this bet over. James has notched at least eight dimes in each of the last four IST games. While the Pacers have actually limited opposing assists this season, they've surrendered the second-highest field goal percentage (49.9%), third-highest three-point percentage (38.9%), and second-most points per game (124.9).
Considering the lack of D from Indiana, I'm expecting a big statistical night from the league's all-time leading scorer, and he should cruise past 37 combined points and assists.
Second only to LeBron in the NBA In-Season Tournament MVP odds, Tyrese Haliburton should again be the primary source of offense for the Pacers.
While much has been discussed about Hali's incredibly efficient passing, his scoring is what I'm keyed in on ahead of Saturday. Haliburton has averaged 27.8 points per game in six IST games, registering a 68% true shooting percentage in the process.
Although he failed to hit this 29-point threshold in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals, Haliburton wasn't far off, notching 26 and 27, respectively.
Yet those were actually two of his lowest-scoring games of the last month.
Since November 9th, Haliburton is averaging 29.5 points per game. He's scored at least 29 points in six of 11 games over that span, including in four of his last seven.
The Lakers, meanwhile, have struggled to contain opposing guards. Despite an otherwise-stout defense, LA is allowing the eighth-most points per game to opposing point guards. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (32 points), Tyrese Maxey (31), Luka Doncic (30), and Kyrie Irving (28) have all enjoyed big scoring nights against the Lakers over the last few weeks.
But this is just as much a bet on Tyrese Haliburton continuing his ascension into superstardom as it is a bet against the Lakers. On the league's biggest stage, with a 118-point implied team total, look for Indy's leading scorer to have yet another big game on offense.
Looking for the latest NBA odds? Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook and check out all of the NBA betting options.
The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.