Boston at L.A. Lakers
Time: 9:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: BOS -7.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Boston Celtics have won six of its past 10 SU and is 18-13 on the road this season. Boston travels to face the 19-42 Los Angeles Lakers as 7.5-point favorites in a game that could be a high-scoring affair, and a shootout between some offensive-minded guards in one Isaiah Thomas and Lakers second-year gunner D’Angelo Russell.
Defense will not be the theme of this game. The over/under opened at nearly 220 points, and the Lakers are giving up 110.8 points per game this season while Boston averages 107.9 points per game on its own on a nightly basis. The chance is there that Isaiah Thomas comes out and lights it up, but the Lakers are not deficient of backcourt scoring in its own right and the Lakers are putting a heavy emphasis the remainder of the year on the developments of Julius Randle and Russell. Both should see heavy usage rates and big minutes, and the Lakers firmly believe both can be stars to build their team around.
Similarly, rookie Brandon Ingram is also seeing heavy minutes, as the Lakers begin to focus on the collective talents that may be part of its future. With Magic Johnson taking over as Team President, there have already been moves, and one of them was dealing Sixth Man of the Year candidate Louis Williams to the Houston Rockets, largely to clear time for Russell, Jordan Clarkson and the other young Lakers that may more more vital long-term than the aged Williams.
Even so, this is a Lakers team that has lost five-straight games and was just defeated by a struggling Charlotte Hornets team 109-104. The Lakers do have an interesting mix of young talent, but at this point it is hard to call it much more than that. Williams was leading the team in scoring prior to being dealt, and Luol Deng still absorbs 26 minutes a game that could be spent on developing Ingram or Larry Nance Jr.
Nance Jr. has appeared to be a nice energy player, and along with Randle could be the future of the Lakers’ frontcourt. Timfoey Mozgov has not really worked out as planned, but it was a small gamble with the team still several steps—or at least one major superstar—away from contention.
The thought is that the Lakers eventually get Paul George in the summer of 2018, but George has fallen off so badly this season that perhaps that prospect is not the game-changer it once was. The Lakers real hope lies in Russell becoming a legitimate superstar, and he will have every chance to further that conversation tonight against the 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas. For all the diminutive Celtics guard is as a scorer, and he is an elite one, the obvious limitations imposed by being six inches shorter than his nightly competition on a regular basis, are very real.
Thomas cannot muster up the missing seven inches to matchup with Russell in the post, the Celtics will have to frequently help him if Russell really gets cooking. Of course, when it gets bad enough Marcus Smart will draw the defensive assignment of Russell, that is, if Brad Stevens is not smart enough to start the game with Smart assigned to the crafty Lakers guard. Smart is the one wild card defender that helps Boston quickly compensate for Thomas’ shortcomings. Thomas has to be on the court simply because he is a 30 point per game scorer, but the C’s have a huge task on a nightly basis in covering for him in the post.
Al Horford has been a bit of a lackluster addition, too, and Boston needs both more offense and more rebounding from the former All-Star. He has been a colossal disappointment despite the success of the team.