The Lakers are on the road tonight against the Indiana Pacers. Both the Lakers and the Pacers are 1-2, but the common thought is the Lakers are playing better. The Lakers two loses were both to playoff teams and in both games they were within 5 with under 5 to play. The Lakers have seen breakout games from Clarkson and Randle so far, but Russell has yet to have a great game. The Pacers are coming off of back to back losses to the Bulls and the Nets. Outside of Myles Turner, the Pacers have been very disappointing.
Who to watch for
If there was any game for D’Angelo Russell to breakout, it would be this game. The Pacers rank 44.8th percentile in pick and roll defense for the ball handler and an even worse 22nd percentile when the ball goes to the roll man. Russell thrives in the pick and roll and should be able to find his groove, especially in the midrange where he was so deadly last year. As you can see from the shot chart, Russell has struggled in areas he was money from last season. With Myles Turner, the Pacers will drop back on pick and roll coverage, allowing Russell to roast them from 15 feet. Teague is also not know for his defense, all of this is recipe for Russell to have his first breakout game.
The Lakers have been able to hang around in their last two games, but haven’t been able to seal the deal. They’ve been able to do this despite their core not having great games outside of Randle. I expect them to be able to put the Pacers away tonight and come out with their second win of the season. Russell has the stars lining up to have a great game, Randle has been hot, and Clarkson should have an advantage for many of the same reasons as Russell. Lakers will win, 109-98.