Boston (29-26) at LA Lakers (34-21)
When: Thursday, April 15th, 2021
Where: Staples Center,
Los Angeles, CA
Time: 10:05 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Celtics -5.5/212
For the first time in over a year, the Staples Center in Los Angeles will have fans for a basketball game. That should bring some joy to the Los Angeles Lakers, who will host the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in front of about 2,000 spectators. It’s been a while since the Lakers have played a home game – March 31st to be exact. L.A. has been without their two stars in LeBron James (right, high-ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (right calf strain), but have played well of late without them. The Lakers went 4-3 on their seven-game road trip including wins over the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. They also had an impressive 5-2 mark against the spread during the trek. The trip ended with a 101-93 win at the Charlotte Hornets, one night after a loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics seem to be playing their best basketball of the season and have won four straight and six of their last seven to move up to the No. 5 spot in a crowded Eastern Conference. Only one game separates them from No. 8 New York. This is the last of a three-game trip for Boston, who have already beaten Denver and Portland, while covering the spread in each. The Lakers won the first meeting of the season in Boston 96-95 behind a combined 48 points and 21 rebounds from James and Davis. The Celtics have covered each of the last four and six of the last seven, while the over is 5-1 in the last six.
The Celtics are coming off a 116-115 win at Portland on Tuesday behind Jayson Tatum’s 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while Jaylen Brown added 24 points. Tatum has averaged 34.5 points on 52.3 percent shooting from the field in the last four games, while Brown has put up 25.5 points on 49.4 percent shooting over that same stretch. Tatum’s solid play earned him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors last week. However, Tatum said he’s still recovering from having COVID-19, using an inhaler before games to help open his lungs. Boston, which has played to the under in eight of the last 10 games, will return home to play Golden State on Saturday.
The Lakers have not won back-to-back games this month, going 3-3 straight up since the start of April. In the win over Charlotte on Tuesday, Kyle Kuzma led the way with 24 points, while Dennis Schroder contributed 19 points and six assists. However, after averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in his first two full games with the Lakers, Andre Drummond has been limited to a combined seven points in the last two games, although he pulled down 22 rebounds in that span. His rebounding will be more important than his scoring against the Celtics, which is just 17th in the league in defensive rebound percentage. The Lakers, who are 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 home games, will host West-leading Utah on Saturday.
I do like the Celtics to win the game, but this is too many points to lay on the road. I know the Lakers are without their superstars, but they have still played well and hung in games. L.A. will also get a bit of a boost with some fans in the stands. I’ll take the Lakers to keep it close.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.
Pick: Lakers +6