The Boston Celtics (29-26) will pay a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers (34-21) on Thursday for their second meeting this season. The first clash between the two ended up in a 96-95 thriller in the Lakers’ favor on the road, but this time will most definitely be different. Anthony Davis scored 27 points and added 14 rebounds in that contest, while LeBron James added 21 points.
The Lakers will host the Celtics without those two star players in hopes of stringing together two wins in a row for the first time since the end of March, as they’ve been struggling to find their identity without James and Davis. On the other side, Boston is riding a four-game winning streak, winning seven of their last 10 while closing the gap on the fourth-place Hawks.
Pick ATS: Celtics -6.5
It’s no secret that the Lakers just aren’t the same team without James (ankle) and Davis (calf). Reports have shown that they’re within weeks of returning to the team which is huge for a playoff run, but the rest of their regular season still might be a tough road ahead. Andre Drummond has done a decent job of filling Davis’ shoes, but it’s still nowhere near the level that Davis brings to the court.
On top of that, the Lakers have a slew of players who are listed as questionable or probable for Thursday’s contest, including Drummond (toe), Kyle Kuzma (calf), Dennis Schroder (pelvis), Markieff Morris (ankle), Marc Gasol (hamstring), and Wesley Matthews (Achilles).
It’s not likely that all of them will sit, but even if some of them do it’ll easily have an effect on the game’s outcome. LA hasn’t lost a lot of close games lately — when they lose, it’s generally by a lot (see: 111-96 against the Knicks and 104-86 to the Clippers).
Combine all of that with the Celtics’ winning streak, and the fact that Jayson Tatum is playing some inspired basketball lately, especially after his 53-point performance he put in against the Timberwolves, and it looks like this game might tip in Boston’s favor at the end of the night.
Player Prop: Jayson Tatum O26.5 points (-113)
Tatum has averaged 25.9 points per game this season, but he’s kicked it up an extra notch in April as he’s averaged 29.4 over his last seven games, while grabbing 8.6 rebounds per game as well. He’s scored 28 or more points in each of his last three games, while putting in at least 20 points each game for the last 11 dating back to mid-March. He’s coming off a 32-point performance on the road against the Trail Blazers earlier this week while he’ll hope to continue that trend Thursday in Los Angeles.
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