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Thanks Santa for Celtics-Lakers rematch

Dec 23, 2008 5:07 PM

Bettin’ on B’ball by Andy Iskoe |

last week

Happy Holidays to one and all thanks to the NBA for the nice Christmas present it will deliver on Christmas Day as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Boston Celtics.

It will be their first meeting since last season’s Finals. If the Celtics defeat Philadelphia on Tuesday evening they will bring a 19-game winning streak and a league best 27-2 record into the Staples Center.

The Lakers are also off to a strong 21-5 start, third best in the league. Los Angeles is just behind Cleveland (23-4) and ahead of Orlando (21-6). But the Lakers’ point spread record has cost many a betting backer over the past two weeks. Prior to Monday’s game at Memphis, LA had lost nine straight games to the spread.

This is a classic display of a public team being overpriced. Part of the cause has been a decline in the Lakers’ defensive intensity, especially late in games. Until things turn around, it remains dangerous to back them when laying double-digits to even the weakest teams.

As to Thursday’s mid-afternoon clash between the Celtics and the Lakers we can be certain the Lakers have been looking forward to this game since they were beaten by Boston in the NBA Finals. The line for this matchup should be close to a pick with the Celtics’ red-hot play offsetting the Lakers’ home court.

As a "bonus" play in addition to our weekly selection of three weekend games look for the highly motivated Lakers to gain a measure of revenge. LAKERS.

Road teams continue to outperform home teams in point spread terms with a 214-182-6 ATS record (54 percent) through Sunday. Home teams continue to win straight up at a healthy 57 percent clip (231-171). And through just over 400 games the over has a razor slim 200-199-3 edge.

Here’s a look at three more games to be played over the weekend.

Rockets at Hornets (Fri): Houston won the earlier meeting 91-82 at home in mid-November. Only one of their last five encounters dating back to last season topping 180 total points. New Orleans is off of a Christmas Day game in Orlando while Houston has been idle since Tuesday. UNDER.

Raptors at Blazers (Sat): Toronto’s coaching change has not done much to reverse fortunes, having won just two of the previous 10 games. Portland is a solid 9-2 at home and catches the Raptors off Friday night’s game in Sacramento. Portland won the meeting in Toronto earlier this month 98-97. The Blazers will be solid favorites, but it is warranted. Expect Portland to break open the game in the second half. BLAZERS.

Nuggets at Knicks (Sun): The Knicks are an improved team as they get accustomed to coach Mike D’Antoni’s uptempo pace. That is a pace Denver coach George Karl also enjoys. A look at past seasons show that Karl’s Nuggets and D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns play high-scoring games, most producing at least 239 points. There should be a high total posted here, but there will still be room for even more scoring. OVER.