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Celtics 8-4 ATS as Road Underdog, Getting 6.5 Points Against LeBron & Lakers

LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers are favored over the Boston Celtics in Sunday's early game. Photo by Eddie Maloney (Wikimedia Commons).
  • The Boston Celtics are 8-4 against the spread this season and sit third in the Eastern Conference 
  • The Lakers have a commanding lead in the West and have won six of their last seven 
  • Get the odds, analysis and betting prediction for the game below

The Boston Celtics travel to California to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Staples Center. Tip-off time is 3:30pm ET. It’s been a long time since the Celtics and Lakers were legitimate contenders at the same time. As we canter towards the 2020 NBA playoffs, however, they are among the favorites to win it all.

The latest Celtics vs Lakers odds favor the home team, who have won six of their last seven and own a 42-12 record on the season. The Celtics are at 39-16, and are hoping to chase down the Toronto Raptors for the valuable second seed in the East.

Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Boston Celtics +6.5 (-105) +225 Ov 226.0 (-105)
Los Angeles Lakers -6.5 (-115) -275 Un 226.0 (-115)

Odds taken Feb. 23.

Red-Hot Tatum

Jayson Tatum is one of the best players in the NBA right now. He presents the Lakers with a similar challenge to when they face Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Tatum is big, he’s strong, and he’s a versatile scorer. The Lakers likely need to put LeBron James or Anthony Davis on Tatum, and leave Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee to deal with Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter.

Tatum is averaging over 27 points per game over his last 10, shooting 47% from the field. He’s a 39% three-point shooter for his career, but that has leapt to 44.2% over this span. Boston have a very talented core, and Tatum is the best of that bunch at the moment. The former third overall pick has scored 30 or more points eight times this season, with three of those coming in his last six games.

The Lakers are a top defensive team, owning the third-best defensive rating in the NBA. Danny Green will likely matchup with Jaylen Brown or Gordon Hayward, leaving James or Davis with the key job of halting Tatum. This is a test for the Lakers, who are asking a lot from their two stars at both ends of the floor.

Lakers With a Point to Prove

Despite a collection of good wins against the Heat, Nuggets and Jazz, and another over the Houston Rockets, questions remain about the Lakers against the best of the best. They’ve lost twice to the Clippers, and fell short against the Bucks and Sixers. They were blown out by the Celtics in Boston earlier this season and lost to the new-look Rockets earlier this month.

Although Frank Vogel’s team is 16-10 against teams over .500, there’s a sense they have a point to prove. The Celtics have played their way into that group of serious contenders; they are elite at both ends of the floor and are 13-9 against teams over .500.

It’s a big game for the Lakers, perhaps more so than for the Celtics. They have a difficult run at the start of March, keeping the cushion at the top of the West could be crucial.

Value on Boston

Boston have won nine of their last 10, including an epic win over the Clippers before the All-Star break. A complete team performance led them to a comfortable win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Kemba Walker’s absence takes away a key offensive weapon and puts pressure on the bench, but Marcus Smart’s defense could prove invaluable. Smart thrives in games like this.

The improvement Tatum has made defensively, pushing him towards All-NBA Defensive team-level, is important trying to halt Davis. Smart will help out against the former Pelican, too.

This has the potential to go down to the wire, and maybe even overtime like Boston’s recent win over the Clippers. That victory, and the blowout at the Garden earlier this season, will give the Celtics a lot of confidence. They are the best bet here.

Pick: Boston Celtics ML (+225)

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