Boston Celtics at L.A. Lakers –7½ (191)
The Lakers dodged a huge bullet when they stole game three from Boston on Tuesday night. Despite horrendous play from Lamar Odom and Pao Gasol, the Lakers were carried by Kobe Bryant (who else?) while the Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were no-shows. You can’t expect Boston to lay down again, as this game becomes, perhaps, the defining game in the series. Expect better efforts from the Boston crew all-around, but also expect the Lakers, especially their role players, to make a bigger contribution tonight. A telling stat from Tuesday was the awful free-throw shooting for both teams – a sign of fatigue, based a lot on the cross-country trip from Boston with less than a day’s rest. The Lakers will show marked improvement with the extra day, with Odom and Gasol, along with Derrick Fisher and the rest of the supporting cast, playing like they did in blow-out wins over San Antonio. So far, the Lakers have been getting killed on the boards, but if they can shore up their rebounding, they should build a lead tonight and extend. Lakers –7½, OVER 191.