NBA Picks: Celtics vs. Lakers

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:15 PM GMT

The Los Angeles Lakers will take the court for the first time since the passing of longtime owner Jerry Buss, which could supply them the proper motivation to come away with a victory against the Boston Celtics Wednesday night.


Let’s take a closer look at the current NBA odds for this non-conference affair between bitter rivals, with the opening tip scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

Finishing off a back-to-back

Boston has alternated wins and losses over its last four games, as it suffered a 97-90 setback to the Denver Nuggets as nine-point road underdogs last night, while going UNDER the total for the third consecutive contest.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers was definitely mindful of the situation, as no roster member played more than 35 minutes in the affair, which is important to consider when making your NBA picks tonight.

Death in the family

It will certainly be an emotional scene at the Staples Center, as Los Angeles will play its first game since the death of longtime owner Jerry Buss, who purchased the franchise in 1979.

There’s no doubt in my mind that NBA oddsmakers have built this emotional factor into the betting line, considering the Lakers were 1.5-point road underdogs in a 116-95 loss to the Celtics less than two weeks ago.

I’d be cautious in following this emotional angle—shooting guard Kobe Bryant is really the only player on the floor to have forged a relationship with Buss in Southern California.

Inglewood—up to no good

Paul Pierce grew up minutes from the Great Western Forum in Inglewood—the former home of the Lakers.  He’ll likely be emotional on the court due to the passing of Buss, which makes the Celtics a very dangerous road underdog.

Pierce is averaging just 10.3 points per game in his last three contests, but did finish with 24 in the scoring column in the first meeting between these rivals.  The former Kansas Jayhawks star has averaged 25.3 points in his last 13 regular-season road games versus the Lakers.

Could it be a trap?

With a majority of the early action landing on the Celtics, I’m definitely aware that this could be an underdog trap, especially since the line has moved even more in favor of the Lakers Wednesday morning.

Boston is 1-3 SUATS as road underdogs of 6.5 to 9 points this season, as it tries to win its first game away from home versus a Western Conference opponent in seven tries.

[gameodds]5/218905/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I am offering up a Celtics cover as one of my free picks tonight, as the Lakers are 12-17 ATS versus winning teams this year, while the road team has covered the number in five of the last six meetings in this series.

NBA Pick:  Boston Celtics +7.5 at Pinnacle

Also check out my NBA Picks: Knicks vs. Pacers article for more free plays to add to your betting ticket.