Celtics vs. Lakers NBA Odds & Picks: Strong Defense Gives Value to Shorthanded LA (Thursday, April 15)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers.
- The big names that made the Lakers vs. Celtics rivalry what it is? Well, they're lacking on Thursday night.
- That doesn't mean this game isn't without intrigue, with both teams playing relatively well of late.
- Matt Moore breaks down which side he's backing on national television.
Celtics vs. Lakers Odds
|Moneyline||-255 / +200|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
The NBA’s most historic rivalry renews Thursday as the Boston Celtics take on the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. This time, however, the inspirational promo package may fall a little short on the Lakers side.
“Dennis … Schroder? Montrezl Harrell?”
The Lakers remain without LeBron James and Anthony Davis and are trying to stay above water in the brutal Western Conference.
The slide by the Portland Trail Blazers has helped keep them stay in the top-five, and the unfortunate injury to Jamal Murray gives them a real chance at keeping home court in the first round of the playoffs, if they can just make it a few more weeks until they are whole again.
Still, this game provides a marquee matchup for bettors looking to find value on a short slate Thursday.
The Celtics are on a hot streak, having won four in a row and seven of their past 10. They hit a low point in their season, slipping into play-in tournament range, and have been red-hot since.
Jayson Tatum is averaging 31.6 points per game over his last five, on 50-40-90 splits. He’s easily the best player in this matchup with the Lakers’ stars out tonight.
The Celtics are getting it done on the defensive end as well, as they are 10th in Defensive Rating over their past 10 games. Despite their scoring exploits, Celtics games have hit the under in eight of their past 10.
The Celtics are obviously favored with the Lakers without their stars even though they are on the road. But it should be noted that this game projects to be a slobber-knocker grind-it-out type matchup given the profiles of both teams. The Celtics are just 10-9 straight up and 8-11 against the spread when the game goes under this season.
What this means is that the Celtics have struggled against teams that can make it tough for them when they are on offense. The Celtics have basically feasted against teams in the middle this season. They are 6-1 vs. teams that are middle-10 in offense and defense, per Cleaning the Glass, and 7-2 against teams that are bottom 10 in offense and defense.
However, Boston is just 6-11 vs. teams that are top-10 in defensive efficiency via Cleaning the Glass, and more importantly, 19th in spread differential vs. such teams at -2.5.
Simply put, the Celtics struggle when the offense doesn’t come easy and that’s the one area the Lakers pose a threat.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are trying to hang on and keep enough players available to make it until Davis comes back, which could be anywhere between five and 10 days from now. James is also reportedly on schedule to come back within three weeks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
However, they’ve managed to go 6-7 SU and ATS without their superstar duo. The Lakers are still a strong defensive team — No. 2 in defense since James went down on March 21. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has kept their defensive identity together.
The Lakers have held opponents to the fifth-lowest eFG% without Davis and James. The Laker’s interior defense has been mediocre (15th in points in the paint allowed per 100 possessions), but their 3-point defense has been outrageously good, holding teams to the ninth-fewest 3’s per 100 possessions and a league-low 30% shooting from deep in that span.
This is how the Lakers are going to cover this game.
The problem with this game is that the Lakers are such a public team, they’re always going to get a high percentage of best no matter what.
As of this writing, the slight majority of the tickets are on the Lakers (51% via our Action Network app) but 62% of the money is coming in on the Celtics, which is keeping the line tethered to 6.5 after opening at 4.5. However, even at 6, I like the Lakers. Our PRO Projections have this at Lakers +5.6 so right in line with where the number is.
Based on the matchup, and the Celtics’ issues with good defensive teams, I think there’s value on the Lakers to stay within the margin, even without the dynamic duo.
Pick: Lakers +6.5, lean towards under 212.5