By: Emily Musella
Celtics clash with Lakers in East vs. West NBA action!
The Boston Celtics travel to Los Angeles tonight to take on the Lakers. The Celtics have won their last four games and are rising in the Eastern Conference standings, currently in 5th place. Meanwhile, the Lakers are 2-2 in their last four matches and will look to claim a home W over the Boston team. Will the C’s storm LA and capture another win, or will the Lake Show come up clutch at home? You know what time it is, the breakdown shakedown!
Odds: BOS -6, LAL +6
Tip-off: April 15th, 10:00 p.m. EST, Staples Center
The Celtics managed to secure a last second victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, courtesy of a 3- point dagger made by Jayson Tatum. With their last four combined wins, the Boston team has climbed up the Eastern Conference standings from 7th place, to now 5th place. In terms of injuries, the only player that remains OUT is Evan Fournier due to Health and Safety NBA protocols.
Offensively, the last time the Celtics faced the Lakers, the LA team won 96-95. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum put in work with a combined 58 points, but it was not enough to secure the W. I anticipate heavy contributions this time around from Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams III. In their last head-to-head the C’s struggled to find success from the 3-point range as they posted 6/21. Since that game, the Celtics are averaging nearly 38% from the 3-point range.
On the defense, the Celtics catch a break with superstar duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis both designated as OUT with an ankle and achilles injury. LeBron and AD combined for 48 points the last time they faced the C’s so without them on the court, heavy contributions elsewhere will be needed. I expect the Celtics defense to focus primarily on Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schroder.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
The Lakers are coming off a solid win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night. Kyle Kuzma, Dennis Schroder, and Alex Caruso stole the show and ultimately catapulted their Lake Show to a 101-93 W. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis out, the LA team is in desperate need to find a rhythm as they currently are on the hot seat in 5th place, with the Trail Blazers and Mavericks on their heels, in a rather competitive and tight Western Conference.
On the offense, there will need to be a balanced effort from Kuzma, Schroder, Caruso, and Drummond. Though the odds are stacked against the LA team tonight, if they can find the balance and shoot efficiently they could pull off the upset. In terms of how the Lakers stack up, they are 23rd in total score, 10th in FG%, 21st in 3-point%, and 10th in total rebounds. In their last head-to-head with the Celtics, they also shot 29% from the 3-point range. I anticipate that to change tonight for both teams considering since then they have improved from the perimeter.
For the defense, the Lakers face the Core Four of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker. The LA team knows when the Jay’s are hot, they are extremely difficult to stop. The Lakers however did do a solid job of shutting down the 3-point game last time. The other issue the Lakers face is the emergence of Robert Williams III as he continues to find success on both ends of the court for his team. As for how the defense stacks up, the Lakers are 2nd in total score, 6th in FG%, 2nd in 3-point%, and 4th in total rebounds.
ANALYSIS AND BEST BETS
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are two storied franchises that always give their fans an epic competition. Even though there are two impactful injuries on the Lakers side, I still anticipate a close game. Both teams currently sit in 5th place in their respected conferences and will be amped up to secure a W tonight. Who comes out with the victory?
My first best bet is for Jayson Tatum to post OVER 26.5 points tonight. Tatum has been on fire in his last few games with 32, 28, and 53 points. He posted 30 points in his last head-to-head with the Lakers and I anticipate another high-scoring effort from Tatum tonight as well.
My second best bet is for Kemba Walker to post OVER 2.5 3-pointers tonight. Walker likes to take at least 9 shots from the perimeter per game and he averages 34% from that range, therefore he should be good to hit at least 3 3-pointers tonight.
My third best bet is for Kyle Kuzma to post OVER 14.5 points. With LeBron and AD out, Kuzma is the main man for the Lakers and will need to carry a majority of the points tonight. In his last two games, Kuzma posted 24 points and 14 points. I anticipate a big night for him.