Celtics vs. Lakers Odds, Previews, Prediction: Target Total in L.A.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.
- The most storied rivalry in the NBA adds another chapter tonight as the Lakers host the Celtics.
- Boston is the best team in the NBA, but is in a bit of a funk of late. Can Los Angeles take advantage?
- Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews the game and shares his best bet below.
Celtics vs. Lakers Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
Tonight we’re treated to another episode of the NBA’s greatest historical rivalry: Celtics vs. Lakers. Boston has dominated the matchup in the Jayson Tatum era, but the Celtics find themselves at the end of a six-game road trip and facing a possible three-game losing streak.
Can the Lakers make it three-straight losses out West for the defending Eastern Conference champs?
Celtics Missing Their Middle Man
The Celtics have been an anomaly so far, going from a historic defense last season, to a historic offense this season. They have the top-ranked Adjusted Offensive Rating (119.7) by a mile. The second-place Utah Jazz have their Adjusted Offensive Rating at 116.4 — more than respectable, even for this era of basketball. .
Coming off consecutive losses in the middle of a road trip, it’s hard to say if the Celtics’ recent struggles are due to regression, or if they’re purely situational. More than likely, it’s a combination, but situation is undoubtedly a key factor.
Part of that situation is health. Veteran big man Al Horford hasn’t played since the Celtics’ first game of the road trip in Brooklyn, where they beat the Brooklyn Nets 103-92.
Horford’s presence is surprisingly crucial for how lack luster his box scores can be. Horford allows the Celtics to play five-out on offense without sacrificing too much defensive versatility. He opens the paint for the Celtics in way that Blake Griffin (their starting center of the past week) just can’t at this stage of his career.
Four out of the top five lineups for the Celtics feature Horford at the five, according to Cleaning the Glass, and all have positive point differentials. It could be tough for Boston as long as he’s out, since their frontcourt is so thin.
As adequate as he’s been, you never want to be giving too many minutes to Luke Kornet, unless you can help it.
Will the Lakers Go Small?
The Lakers are a team particularly capable of exploiting the Celtics’ lack of frontcourt depth.
The Celtics shoot a lot of 3s, which could cause some problems for the Lakers who are only league-average in preventing shots from deep. Stopping the Celtics from scoring in transition will also be key as Boston ranks fifth in Points Per Play (130.6).
However, the Lakers have Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who round out a squad that takes most of their shots at the rim (40.4%), and rank first in the league in percentage of shots taken from that area. The Lakers also make those shots, ranking eighth in field goal percentage at the rim (68.7%), according to Cleaning the Glass.
With the Celtics’ aforementioned front court issues, this could pose problems. However, the Celtics going small, might solve those issues and give the Lakers trouble in chasing down close outs.
Going small, then presents troubles of its own. Troubles we saw in the Golden State Warriors game Saturday night. If the Celtics go small against the Lakers, they better hope they don’t have tired legs and can knock down shots, because it will be difficult to win the rebound battle, and boards will be the most important aspect of the game.
In the last eight games for the Lakers, the winner of the rebound battle has won six times. Surprisingly, for the Celtics, their success is even more dependent on rebound success. The rebound-winning team won seven out of the last eight Celtics games.
Tonight will be the Celtics seventh game in the last 14 days, and their eighth city in that span. It’s an extremely tough spot to back the Celtics, despite a much superior roster.
Instead I might look to an under since I expect the Celtics to be playing with tired legs. Even without the situational factor, my numbers show a lot of value on the current total number.
The Lakers have been a heavy over team lately, going over the total in six of their last seven games, however, the Celtics have trended heavy to the under. They’ve gone under in four of their last five games, and are 11-3 to the under in road games this season. BetMGM has the highest number at the time of publish and I like it down to 229.
Pick: Under 234.5