There are three interesting factors in the game tonight between the Los Angeles Lakers (27-27) and Boston Celtics (35-19) 1. It’s a rivalry game between two power brands in the NBA, and an iconic rivalry at that. 2. It’s a matchup between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving — teammates on the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers championship team. And 3. Both teams are heavily interested in acquiring Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.
With the trade deadline being today, the two teams will meet five hours after the deadline is over, so we could be looking at a situation where either of the two teams would have acquired Davis — though I’m betting that won’t happen and New Orleans will keep him.
For Los Angeles, it’s been a complete circus. After a 136-94 42-point blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, the Lakers and media were swirling in trade rumors.
Even Pacers fans got involved in the rumors:
“Yeah, I heard it,” Lakers forward Brandon Ingram said to reporters after the loss about the chants. “I still made free throws. I’ve been through and heard worse — way worse things in my life.”
Indiana fans also chanted at Los Angeles center JaVale McGee as well.
The loss to the Pacers was the worst of LeBron James’ career.
As far as LeBron goes, he has a pretty rich history against the Boston Celtics. In 17 seasons in the NBA, he’s faced off against the Celtics a total of 90 times — including 41 contests in the playoffs, where he’s won 25 of them.
Nine out of the last 14 road trips to Boston have been for the playoffs, and all have been during his second tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron and the Cavs won six out of nine of those games — this including a game seven victory in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Now LeBron, as a Laker, gets to be involved with the iconic “Bird-Magic” rivalry against the Celtics.
But things haven’t gone so well for the legendary brand of the Los Angeles Lakers this season. They’re currently fourth place in the Pacific Division, and if the season ended today, they would miss the playoffs altogether.
For his opponent and former teammate, Kyrie Irving, it’s been a similar story for his Boston Celtics. After expecting to be on top of the league at this time of the year, the C’s are 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the top stop in the Eastern Conference — Boston is No. 3. For a good amount of time, they were lingering around the fifth spot in the East.
Next week at the NBA All-Star Game, it’s possible that both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving could once again become teammates. LeBron, a team captain, will have an opportunity to draft ‘Uncle Drew’ — this is if the other team captain, Giannis Antetokounmpo, doesn’t take him first in a draft that also features elite talent from the Golden State Warriors such as Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.
Before we get to All-Star Weekend, however, Los Angeles must play three more games on a road trip throughout the Eastern Conference — including against the heavyweight Philadelphia 76ers this weekend.
For the Celtics, they’ve gotten themselves a bit back on track since their losing stretch and drama with Kyrie Irving, with their last game being a 103-96 win at the Cleveland Cavaliers — the old home of LeBron James.
The victory against Cleveland was the fifth straight for Boston and their 10th win in their last 11 games.
The Celtics have won the last two contests over the Lakers when the game is in Boston. In their last meeting in the city, the C’s would get the 107-96 decision.
Tip-off between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics is set for 8:00 PM ET and will be nationally televised on TNT. Boston enters as the -8-point favorite over Los Angeles.
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LOS ANGELES LAKERS
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LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Statistically, we have an interesting matchup in this one. Even though Los Angeles is in the negative on points-per-game and points against, they do have an advantage in field goal percentage and rebounds-per-game. In offensive production, they’re a slim -1 averaging 111.8 PPG; however, they’re +1 on the shooting side hitting 47.3% of their shots. On the rebounding end, the Lakers hold a +2 edge with a solid 47.2 RPG. But here’s another negative, and nice-sized one: -7 on the defensive side at 112.6 PA.
Despite having the superior record at 35-19, the Boston Celtics come in with just half of the statistical leverage, though they do have a pretty solid advantage on the defensive side of the ball. In offensive production, the C’s are +1 scoring 112.7 PPG, but they take a -1 hit in field goal percentage at 46.4 FG%. In the battle on the glass, Boston is also in the red at 45.1 RPG — that’s -2 compared to the Lakers. But they make up for it all with their defensive leverage: +7 with a solid tally of 105.8.
“When it rains, it pours.” And that’s exactly what I see in the Los Angeles Lakers’ future tonight against the Boston Celtics. Las Vegas agrees, the C’s are coming into the game as a -9-point favorite. And let’s be real: How can anybody have faith in LeBron and Co. when they lost by 42 points to the Indiana Pacers without their star Victor Oladipo?
On the road tonight in Boston at TD Garden and facing off against a 35-19 Boston Celtics squad led by an elite Kyrie Irving, you must place the Lakers on blowout alert tonight — especially with LeBron seemingly still having issues with his recent groin injury with all of the ‘load management’ labels on the injury report. So yeah, place the Lakers on blowout alert, and definitely take Boston for the win.
I have the Celtics steamrolling the Lakers tonight and at least getting a 20-point win, so as far as the -9 spread is concerned, I would certainly take Boston to easily cover. With the exception of LeBron, Los Angeles just doesn’t have the fire-power to keep up with the Celtics, and on the road at that. With the O/U at 224.5, I’d go ahead and bet on the over. With the lackluster defense of the Lakers, Boston should be able to score in the 120 range. And you would think a LeBron James-led Los Angeles offense would score at least 100, right? (They only scored 94 against the Pacers.) Just because it’s LeBron, I’ll say yes. Take the over, it’ll be a slim margin, but it’s worth the risk and should pay off.