One of the biggest rivalries in the NBA takes center stage as the Boston Celtics host the L.A. Lakers. Find out where we have decided to place our NBA picks
in this marquee matchup between two of the leagues most popular teams.
The Boston Celtics (14-10) might have caught their arch rivals at the right time. The Celtics have won 5 straight and 9 out of their last 10, while Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers (14-11) are laboring through a season high six game road trip.
Tip-off is scheduled for Thursday at 8:00 pm ET at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. This matchup can be seen on TNT.
NBA betting lines have the Celtics as a 3.5 point favorite with the total listed at 177. The lines are holding firm at most sports betting shops, meaning that betting action has been fairly even across the board. This being said, which way should we look for the best value with our NBA picks in this matchup? Lets find out.
Even though the Lakers have lost two of their first three games on this road trip, they've been successful against Boston, winning 3 straight and 5 of the last 6 meetings.
The Twilight of their careers
These are two veteran ball clubs with plenty of star power. However, age is taking it's toll, and both clubs know that they won't have many more chances at winning a championship.
Injuries along with trades have taken their toll, and these teams are basically playing on fumes in a sense, as this is a matchup of the 30 and over club. In order for one of these current teams to have another shot at the title, the stars would have to be aligned and basically everything would have to fall right.
The one thing that you can count on is a competitive matchup as this is one of the biggest rivalries in basketball in the last few decades and each of these teams feels that they can still contend in the title race.
A full lineup
The Boston Celtics have been playing on crutches all season long, but it looks as if the starting five are now healthy. The Celtics have managed to run off 5 consecutive wins and have looked impressive doing so. This is a major opportunity for Boston, as they have the best defense in the league, allowing just 86.5 points per game. In comparison, the Lakers have allowed 97.2 points on the road to just 85.2 points at home.
Their last outting proved that Boston remains a dominant force in the NBA. Granted, they beat the worst team in the league in Charlotte, but Kevin Garnett managed to lead the way with 22 points and 7 rebounds, while all of the key players got involved.
Boston reverted back to their old style of play, as Rajon Rondo took fewer shots and managed to dish out 14 assists, with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both managing to score in double figures. Pierce did a lot of the dirty work in collecting 9 assists and 8 rebounds. The Celtics will need to carry the momentum over as the Lakers have had Boston's number lately.
Containing the West Coast Big 3
Boston's defense is one of their biggest strengths, but it will be put to the test tonight. They have a major disadvantage on the inside in dealing with Bynum, and the duo of Gasol and Kobe can kill them from the outside. If Boston can contain the "Big 3" and play a solid offensive game, they should extend their winning streak to six games.
A star is born
Andrew Bynum is finally living up to his billing. It took a Lamar Odom trade and the threat of the Lakers exchanging Bynum as well for Andrew to finally show what he was worth. He might never be at the level of Dwight Howard, but Bynum has all of the tools needed to be one of the best big men in the game.
At 7 foot tall, 285 pounds, and just 24 years of age, Bynum is the present and the future of the Lakers organization. If Bynum plays with confidence, the Celtics don't have the size and strength to match up against him with Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal. Not to mention that they also have to deal with superstar Pau Gasol. On the season, Andrew Bynum is averaging 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Expect Bynum to come up big in this spot.
LA's past and present
The situation here is different for Kobe Bryant, as he's already amassed a legendary career that puts him in the same light as Michael Jordan. Speaking of conversations, Larry Bird was recently interviewed and he expressed that the one person he would've liked to play with was Kobe. For a legend to say something like that, especially about a player on the Lakers, it tells you what you already know.
Although Kobe might have missed a step or two along the way, his production hasn't suffered, as he is averaging a whopping 29.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. This guy is entering his mid 30's, has major mileage due to playoff games, yet remains the best player in the game today.
Bryant is coming off of a strong performance in his home state of Pennsylvania, and look for a big game out of him here tonight. Even though road trips can wear down players, Kobe excels in the spotlight. A TNT matchup against Boston is one of these high profile games, and Kobe will look to bring the heat.
Outcome of the game
L.A. is currently on their longest road trip of the season, while Boston is finally beginning to get healthy. Look for Boston to make it 6 straight wins, but let's be safe with our NBA picks here and take the moneyline.
NBA Pick: Celtics ML
Speaking of rivalries, I hope you all watched as Doc Rivers' son took down the Tar Heels last night with a buzzer beater. I had correctly picked Duke cover as a +6 point dog, and the Blue Devils walked away with the "W" in their most important game of the season.