L.A. Clippers at Boston
Time: 7 PM CST (TNT)
Spread: BOS -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Boston Celtics (37-16) have been hot, as winners of eight of its last 10 games overall. Boston trails No. 2 Toronto by two games in the Eastern Conference standings while maintaining a 2.5 game lead on No. 4 Miami. The Celtics are 3-point favorites hosting the Los Angeles Clippers in the final TNT game before the NBA All-Star break this weekend. The over/under is set at 229 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Boston Celtics are clearly a better team without Kyrie Irving. Boston is 37-16 and is currently seeded No. 3 in the Eastern Conference.
Kemba Walker has stepped into the role of No. 1 scorer, and he is averaging 21.6 points and 5.2 assists in his first season as a Celtic. Jayson Tatum, too, has stepped it up in his third season. The former Duke swingman is averaging 20.9 points and seven rebounds per game. And if that was not enough, Jaylen Brown has taken on a much bigger scoring role in averaging just under 20 points per game. Adding to this trio, Gordon Hayward is progressing well from his surgery and should be back in the lineup soon. The C’s are locked and loaded and absolute contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Boston averages 111.2 points per game this season while continuing to play its tough brand of defense. The team shoots 45.8 percent from the floor and 35.4 percent on threes (33.5 attempts per game). Boston also is still waiting for eventual-starting center Enes Kanter to round into shape following an injury to starting the season. Kanter has shown bright flashes, but his consistency is something the C’s are trying to figure out. Daniel Theis performed admirably in his absence, but Kanter will bring a scoring punch to the 5-spot that Theis and Robert Williams III cannot.
Marcus Smart continues to function well as a jack-of-all-trades sixth man, or a “stretch-6” as he called himself in the preseason. Smart is averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 assists per game and can provide defense at all positions. The Celtics depth is functional— in the sense that its backups provide different looks and strengths than its starters. Carsen Edwards has looked good in limited minutes and will be a solid backup for Walker for the first three seasons of his NBA career. The Celtics just have a lot going on, and even without Hayward and Kanter, this team has rolled to a .750 winning percentage thus far.
LAC NEWS & NOTES:
The Los Angeles Clippers are 37-17 and trail the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference as the West’s No. 3 team. The Clippers won six of its last 10 SU. L.A. ranks No. 4 in scoring at 115.6 per game while limiting teams to 109.7, a point differential of +5.9 points.
Considering its No. 3 and No. 4 scorers both come off the bench, this is done in a different fashion. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell each average 20 and 19 points per game, respectively and do it in 30 minutes a night or less. That enables Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to keep their minutes around the 30-32 range, as well.
Leonard leads the team in minutes at just 32.1 per game. The Clippers utilize a 10-11 man rotation, with several key role players like Patrick Beverley and Ivica Zubac serving their purposes as defenders and sparks. George is averaging 23.5 points, six rebounds, and 3.7 assists as one of three Clippers with a PER over 20. Leonard is super-efficient and the top-three Clippers all shoot 36 percent or better from three.
Leonard averages 26.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and has appeared in just 33 games due to load management. With the Clippers resplendent depth, it can afford to rest its superstars and cruise to an easy homeport advantage in the first round.