The NBA’s most storied rivalry will always be Celtics-Lakers. So far, the addition of LeBron James to this mix hasn’t produced any playoff magic, but the regular-season matchups have delivered some drama.
In his first year in L.A., James led the Purple and Gold against the Kyrie Irving-led Celtics in a juicy matchup between former teammates who couldn’t be more different. That first meeting, played in Boston’s TD Garden in 2019, saw LeBron go for a triple-double in a 129-128 win, and both he and Irving scored 30.
The Celtics got even in L.A. later that season, continuing a trend that has seen these rivals split their two matchups every year since ’17-18.
All of the Lakers’ wins have come by one or two points, which is interesting since they come into Tuesday night’s game at Staples Center favored by 2.5 points (-115) at DraftKings. Early betting line movement sees the number headed to 3 on oddsboards, and the number may continue to head north depending on Celtics’ All-Star Jaylen Brown’s availability.
NBA · Tue (12/7) @ 10:08pm ET
|Staples Center, Los Angeles, California|
The Celtics’ last six wins in this series have all been by eight or more, and they’ll be looking for their first sweep of L.A. since 2017 and only their third since ’07 as they take the court for the 10:05 tip (TNT). Boston won the first matchup a few weeks ago (Nov. 19), overcoming a 38-30 deficit following the opening 12 minutes in an eventual 130-108 rout in game priced at pick ‘em by the betting market.
While Anthony Davis and James combined for 54 points and shot 59.5 percent from the field, the Lakers bench got outplayed, and Boston won the second half 70-47 in a dominant effort despite the absence of Brown, the team’s second-leading scorer. Jayson Tatum, who always gets up for showdowns with James and had a connection with former Lakers star Kobe Bryant that makes this rivalry even more special to him, produced a game-high 37 points and 11 rebounds.
Dennis Schroder, who turned down a lucrative extension from the Lakers and ultimately played his way out of L.A. with poor shooting and inconsistency down the stretch and in the playoffs, returns to Staples Center for the first time and will undoubtedly be mocked and booed relentlessly. He finished with 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists in the November matchup. He joined the Celtics (13-11 SU/13-10-1 ATS) on a one-year make-good deal, hoping to restore his reputation before taking another shot at free agency.
Davis (thumb) and James (abdomen) are both expected to suit up for the Lakers (12-12 SU/8-16 ATS), who have been hovering around .500 for weeks but own the NBA’s worst record against the number. Carmelo Anthony has been dealing with an illness and is considered questionable.
L.A. has been home all month and hasn’t left California since returning from a 2-3 five-game road trip that ended with a victory at Indiana on Nov. 24. This will mark the first time this season where the Lakers have had three days in between games to prepare, so they should have fresh legs.
Boston lists Brown as questionable due to a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the first two contests on this current five-game roadie.
Celtics-Lakers Total Trends And Pick
The Celtics lost at Utah 137-130 on Friday night in a game that was tight throughout and come off a 145-117 rout over the Blazers in Portland on Saturday that produced the highest-scoring output under first-year head coach Ime Udoka.
The Celtics’ four highest-scoring games this season have all come on the road, but the offensive explosion in Utah and Portland ended a 7-0-1 ‘under’ run in road games.
The ‘over’ is 6-2 in the Lakers’ last eight games, a run that began in that aforementioned loss in Boston. In all, 10 of L.A.’s last 14 have gone ‘over’ the posted total, which is the only way we can look here given the Celtics’ current form.
L.A. has shown a lack of continuity on both sides of the ball due to so many key guys being in and out of the lineup, and its defense has suffered most of all. Both teams should have fresh legs and will be plenty motivated for this final regular-season meeting.
Ride the high side on a total set at 218.5 at BetMGM.