- Anthony Davis will return after missing 5 games with a bruised glute muscle
- Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown expected to return for Celtics after missing the last game
- This will be the first meeting of the season between the old rivals
|Lakers||-2 (-110)||-145||Over 226 (-110)|
|Celtics||+2 (-110)||+125||Under 226 (-110)|
The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have met countless times in the NBA Finals over the years. It’s been over a decade since the last time, but could 2020 bring the resurrection of the classic rivalry? The Lakers are currently 34-8 and sitting comfortably atop the Western Conference, while the 27-14 Celtics are just a game-and-a-half behind the Miami Heat for the No. 2 spot in the East.
BetOnline has props regarding potential Finals matchups posted, and a Lakers-Celtics showdown currently has +1900 odds. While it’s not the most likely outcome, the fact that both franchises seem to be in the midst of an upswing means it’s not impossible to think we could see this rivalry get renewed at some point over the next few years.
Most importantly, these teams are healthy tonight. Anthony Davis is set to return after missing the last 5 games with a bruised butt muscle, while Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown will both return after missing Boston’s last game over the weekend. The Lakers opened as 1-point favorites, but the line has since moved to Lakers -2.
Save for an underwhelming showing at home a few days ago against Orlando, the Lakers have been rolling of late. That loss snapped a 9-game winning streak, but LA got right back into the win column on Saturday night with a 124-115 triumph over James Harden and the Rockets in Houston.
The Lakers’ record is the second-best in the league behind only the Bucks, and their point differential of plus-8.6 is also second behind Milwaukee. Only the Mavericks (plus-7.3) and Clippers (plus-6.6) have point differentials better than plus-5 among those in the Western Conference.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis get plenty of praise for their offensive exploits, but the Lakers have been able to steamroll their way through the season thanks to a surprisingly stingy defensive showing. Los Angeles currently owns the third-best defensive rating in the league, allowing 102.1 points per 100 possessions. Only Milwaukee and Toronto have been better. Boston, meanwhile, ranks fifth in the same category.
Celtics’ Under-the-Radar Season
The Celtics are unquestionably one of the NBA’s marquee franchises, but they haven’t garnered a whole lot of attention from national media this season. Everyone’s talking about the Lakers and Clippers in LA, while the exploits of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have understandably generated plenty of attention.
The 76ers and Nets feel like nonstop soap operas, while the Knicks are in the midst of yet another season of discontent. For whatever reason, the Celtics have been chugging along without much buzz. Boston is a respectable 27-14 on the year and they’re in a battle with the 76ers and Raptors for supremacy in the Atlantic Division. Philly is the betting favorite to come out atop the Atlantic at the end of the season, but I wouldn’t sleep on the Celtics.
Boston was a disappointment last season in Kyrie Irving’s final year with the team, but they have turned the page with Kemba Walker in the fold. Walker may not be quite as impactful a player as Kyrie, but he’s able to do a comparable job without generating as much negative attention. Kemba is averaging better than 22 points per game in his first year with the team, while the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are quietly in the midst of the best seasons of their respective careers.
As impressed as I have been with what the Celtics have been doing, the Lakers have been on another level entirely. Davis should be feeling fresh after taking a couple of weeks off, while LeBron keeps putting up MVP-caliber numbers on a nightly basis.
Any time you can get the Lakers as an underdog (as was the case Saturday night in Houston) it’s a bet worth considering. LA isn’t a ‘dog on Monday night in Boston, but the 2-point spread is certainly attractive from a betting perspective.
With Al Horford gone, the Celtics are lacking the beef up front to really give the Lakers trouble in the paint. Davis should have a field day against the likes of Tatum, Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter, while JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard should be able to give the Lakers a decent edge on the glass.
I just like the idea of getting the Lakers as small favorites. These teams aren’t quite as evenly-matched as the spread might lead you to believe. Most of the money is coming in on the Lakers here, and with good reason. I’d jump on the 2-point spread while you can still get it, because there’s a decent chance the line will continue to shift as the day progresses.