Clippers vs. Celtics NBA Odds & Picks: Expect Kawhi Leonard and Co. to Bounce Back on the Road
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers, Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.
- The Clippers head to Boston to face the Celtics in a primetime national TV matchup between two teams with dynamic wing players.
- The Clippers are looking to get a win after dropping a close game Sunday while the Celtics are fighting to stay above .500.
- Roberto Arguello breaks down the odds and matchup, including his betting pick.
Editor’s Note: Jaylen Brown has been cleared to play Tuesday after missing the Celtics’ previous game with a sore left knee.
Clippers vs. Celtics Odds
|Moneyline||-160 / +135|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
The Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night in a primetime East vs. West matchup on TNT. The Celtics won the previous meeting between these teams on Feb. 5, although the Clippers were without Paul George.
This time the Clips will have both of their All-Stars healthy, but the Celtics may be without one of their star players as Jaylen Brown is questionable with a knee injury.
Below I’ll break down the matchup and discuss if that injury news provides any value on either side of this exciting game.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are coming off of a disappointing loss on Sunday at the Bucks where they led 100-96 with four minutes to play, but went scoreless on 0-of-9 shooting from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the rest of the game.
The performance was reminiscent of their postseason struggles, but it was uncharacteristic for Leonard and George this season. The two All-Stars are each averaging more than 23 points and 4.9 assists per game while shooting at least 50/39/87 on field goals, 3s, and free throws. Per Cleaning The Glass, Leonard and George each rank in at least the 90th percentile in points per 100 shot attempts and at least in the 94th percentile in assist percentage among forwards.
Their shooting efficiency at all three levels and unselfish playmaking has given the Clippers the fourth-best Offensive Rating in the NBA (excluding garbage time). The Clippers also have the second-highest half court Offensive Rating as they lead the NBA in three-point accuracy at 42.1%. The Clippers have five different players shooting over 40% on threes who are attempting more than three threes per game.
With injuries and a deficient bench hurting the Celtics, the Clippers have more offensive firepower between the two teams. If they get a full 48-minute performance and don’t get stagnant like they did at the end of the Bucks game, this is a winnable game for them.
If the Celtics hope cover or win outright as home underdogs, they will need Walker at his best and likely Jaylen Brown to play. Brown is questionable due to left knee soreness while Marcus Smart (calf) and Romeo Langford (wrist) remain out until after the All-Star break.
Without Kemba Walker’s playmaking for the first month of the season, the Celtics’ bench was exposed. Gordon Heyward carried them last season, but they don’t have any playmakers in that unit anymore (rookie Payton Pritchard has been the lone bright spot).
All-Stars Brown and Jayson Tatum are playing at a high level on both sides of the court thanks to their tremendous athleticism, length, and shooting. While Tatum and Brown are great players, they don’t make enough plays consistently to make the players around them better, and that is why this Celtics team needs Walker at his best.
The Celtics are hoping for Kemba Walker to continue getting back into form after dealing with lingering knee injuries that sidelined him for the first month of this season.
Celtics fans should be encouraged as Walker has scored 20 or more points in three straight games for the first time this season. When Walker is contributing offensively it has made a huge difference for this squad:
The Celtics are 5-2 when Kemba Walker scores 20+ points this season.
2-8 when he doesn’t.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 27, 2021
Walker is not only valuable as a scorer, but he also puts pressure on the defense by forcing them to stretch the floor. His ability to make reads off the defense gives his offensively challenged teammates like Daniel Theis, Robert Williams III, and Semi Ojeleye quality looks that they cannot otherwise get for themselves.
In order for the Celtics to compete with the Clippers (especially with Smart remaining out), they need Walker to be at his best.
Right now, the Clippers are a better version of the Celtics. Both teams are led by two two-way All-Star wings, but Leonard and George are presently better than Tatum and Brown. The Clippers’ All-Stars have been more efficient shooting the basketball and are better distributors who make their teammates better.
The Clippers also have a much deeper roster with more players who can step up and contribute on any given night. The Clippers are coming off of Sunday’s disappointing loss on a national stage, and I expect them to bounce back with a more focused 48-minute effort.
Expect Brown to play, but take the Clippers to win and cover as 3.5-point favorites with value down to Clippers -4.5. If Brown is out, take the Clippers down to -6. Be sure to check out our Action Labs NBA Insiders page for the latest on Brown’s injury status.
Pick: Clippers -3.5 (bet down to -4.5)