Moore’s Betting Angles for Celtics vs. Lakers: Is This Spread Too Big?
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James
Celtics at Lakers Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions
- Spread: Lakers -7
- Over/Under: 222
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
The Lakers have a pretty archaic approach. They are a dominant team inside with their size and length, don’t take a lot of threes, and dominate with defense. These are the teams that Boston has been phenomenal against the spread this season.
Celtics at Lakers Trends
Against the top ten teams in points in the paint per 100 possessions this season, the Celtics have gone 12-4-1 ATS. Against the bottom-ten teams in 3-pointers made per 100 possessions, Boston has gone 11-9 ATS. If you cannot keep up with their shooting, you’re doomed.
The Lakers also struggle with elite teams. They’re 10-10 ATS this season vs. teams with a 60% win percentage or greater, and 4-7 vs. teams that are top five in both offense and defense.
Celtics at Lakers Matchups
With Kemba Walker out, there’s a genuine question to hold about how the Lakers will shift coverage on the Celtics’ other perimeter weapons. In the first matchup, the Lakers played drop coverage on Jayson Tatum.
This is absolute madness:
Without Walker, do they commit two to the ball? That’s a key question but I lean towards yes. The Lakers only really change their coverage for the highest players and I’m not sure Tatum has earned that respect yet, though he should have.
Oddsmakers have set Tatum’s points prop at 24.5. You might think that LeBron James will take the primary assignment, but James typically takes the off-ball matchup and tries to play free safety; he’s likely to guard Gordon Hayward.
The Lakers also randomly doubled, like on this play where James helps on Tatum and all of a sudden the other Lakers are trying to basically man-zone as Jaylen Brown drives right by. The game’s over by this point, but it’s illustrative of the defensive question marks the Lakers had in the previous matchup:
The Celtic’s team total in this game is only 108. In games where the opposing teams makes more than 12 threes (the Celtics’ season average), the Lakers are 9-11 ATS and give up 112 points per contest.
If you do beat the Lakers, it’s going to be because of their offense, even though it has improved nearly every month. They’re still 19th in 3-point makes per game, but that’s up from being bottom-five for most of the first two months.
Meanwhile, in the first game, the Lakers still put up 52 points in the paint. They just got nailed in transition (25 fast-break points for Boston) and off turnovers (28 points). The outlier, though, was that Boston put up 24 second-chance points. That’s rare for a team that is sixth in that category this season, vs. a team that’s undersized.
In the first matchup, both Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter were both double-digit plusses in plus-minus. That’s unlikely to hold. The Celtics are sneaky great at defending the rim, but James identified the mismatch and attacked it last game. The game got out of hand before he could impact things more:
James was just 5-of-12, but when you go back, several of the misses were on offensive rebound attempts. He’s likely to isolate the bigs more in this one, and that leans towards the Lakers.
Kemba Walker had 20 points last time out for the Celtics, and his absence is undoubtedly considerable. But if you’re facing a team like the Lakers, whose entire team ethos is built on size and athleticism, losing the shorter point guard isn’t the biggest loss.
Celtics vs. Lakers Betting Picks
My favorite bet for this game is to back the Celtics to go over their 108-point team total. I don’t think the Lakers are well-positioned to get stops against a team with this many on-ball creators. The Lakers spot as a top-10 team across the board defensively, except in one key area: defending jump shots off the dribble, they’re just 16th, league-wide. Boston is built to specifically punish systemic teams like LA (and Milwaukee). They’re just 14th defending isolation plays this season. Boston has those creators.
The full-game total (222) has value as well. It’s an early game, which makes me nervous. When teams with winning percentages 60% or better are on the road for an early Sunday game in LA, the under is 14-4 since 2003. That scares me. The Celtics are a jump-shooting team; they generate the ninth-most points per game from jumpers league-wide. That can go cold.
I think for a total play, I lean towards a live bet. Wait to see if the Celtics are hitting after the first half and make a play based on that. If they look like they just don’t have it, it might be safe to go with the under. Just don’t overreact to the first quarter; Boston is 25th in first-quarter field goal percentage this season.
This is too many points to lay with the Lakers. I don’t like the moneyline for Boston, but I do think the value is on the Celtics with the points.
The Bet(s): Celtics +7 or better, Boston Team Total Over 108