Thursday night will see a battle of West versus East as the Los Angeles Lakers (27-27) travel to the TD Garden to take on the Boston Celtics (35-19).
For the Los Angeles Lakers, they come into this game having lost three of their last four, including a 136-94 drumming by the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. The most interesting question for the Lakers, though, might be who is on their team come game time. Having been in discussions with the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire the services of Anthony Davis, the Lakers could see an overhaul of their roster if the Pelicans were to agree to a deal. Still, sitting 10th in the Western Conference, just 2.5 games out of the last playoff spot, Lebron James and company will be looking to beat a sizzling Boston team.
Speaking of the Celtics, they come into this game having won five in a row, including a 103-96 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. Like the Lakers, they too have had discussions about Anthony Davis, and could see some adjustments to their roster as well if a trade could be consummated. Sitting 3rd in the Eastern Conference, they would love to put pressure on the likes of the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks as the season starts to move towards the playoffs.
In this contest, the Boston Celtics come in as 7.5-point favorites playing at home. The moneyline for this one sees the Lakers at +260 and the Celtics at -323.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Boston Celtics have certainly been the more efficient team between them and the Lakers. According to basketball-reference, Boston ranks 9th in adjusted offensive rating, which estimates the points scored per 100 possessions while taking the opposing defense into account. Their rating comes in at 112.90. For the Lakers, they come in at 21st, with a rating at 107.84.
On the defensive end, it is a bit closer. Looking at adjusted defensive rating, the Celtics come in 6th in the NBA at 107.06 points while the Los Angeles Lakers come in just a couple spots behind at 8th with 108.46 points.
Lakers Could Look Like A Whole New Team Come Game Time
While it appears that talks have stalled between the Lakers and Pelicans, we know that anything can happen in the NBA. With that in mind, if the Lakers were to make a trade before Thursday’s trade deadline, the team that takes the court against the Celtics could look substantially different. The last report had L.A. offering a package that included Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, and draft picks to the Pelicans for Davis. If you are asking who they would have left to play, that is a pretty good question.
Still, at this point, no deal has been made, so we will assume that the roster will be intact. When speaking of the Lakers, you first have to look to Lebron James, who can still be a dominant force even as he enters the later part of his career . On the season, he is averaging 26.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game. The problem, though, is he has missed ample time this season, only playing in 36 games to date. Still, he should be good to go for Thursday’s matchup.
Aside from Lebron, the other leading scorers are Kyle Kuzma (18.6 points, 5.7 rebounds), Brandon Ingram (17.1 points, 4.9 rebounds) and JaVale McGee (10.9 points, 6.8 rebounds).
Boston To Keep Rolling In The East
Boston has been playing some great basketball as of late and will look to continue doing so against an inconsistent Lakers team. Leading the way for the Celtics has been Kyrie Irving. He currently ranks 14th in the league in scoring, averaging 23.8 points per game. He is also averaging 4.9 rebounds and 7 assists per game.
Other major contributors for the Celtics include Jayson Tatum (16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds), Marcus Morris (14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds), Al Horford (12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists), Gordon Hayward (10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists) and Jaylen Brown (12.7 points, 4.3 rebounds). On paper, Boston definitely has the more talented and deeper team.
Celtics Win, But Do They Cover?
From a betting perspective, I definitely like Boston to win straight up in this one. They are playing at home, they have been on a roll lately and just frankly have a better, deeper roster. My issue, though, is the 7.5 points seems awfully steep to me. Even with a trade rumors swirling, there is talent on the Lakers, especially when it starts with Lebron on the court. I do think that the Celtics win, but my bet is that the Lakers cover. For my money, I am taking Lebron’s Lakers and the 7.5 points.