The Los Angeles Lakers welcome the Boston Celtics to Staples Center for a cross-conference clash between historic rivals on Thursday. The Celtics (29-26) enter on a four-game winning streak and they are aiming for their fifth straight victory away from home. The Lakers (34-21) are 16-11 at home this season, and Los Angeles won the first matchup between these teams on Jan. 30. LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (calf) are out for Los Angeles, with Evan Fournier (protocols) and Robert Williams (knee) out for Boston.
Tip-off is at 10 p.m. ET in Los Angeles. The latest Celtics vs. Lakers odds from William Hill Sportsbook list Boston as a six-point favorite, while the over-under for total points is set at 212.5. Before finalizing any Lakers vs. Celtics picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine's proven computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it has returned over $9,100 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks over the past two-plus seasons. The model is up over $1,100 on its top-rated picks this season, and dating back to last year, it entered Week 17 of the 2020-21 NBA schedule on a stunning 95-59 roll on top-rated NBA picks against the spread. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Celtics vs. Lakers spread: Celtics -6
- Celtics vs. Lakers over-under: 212.5 points
- Celtics vs. Lakers money line: Celtics -245, Lakers +205
- BOS: The Celtics are 5-5 against the spread in the last 10 games
- LAL: The Lakers are 6-4 against the spread in the last 10 games
Why the Celtics can cover
With Los Angeles operating without its top two stars, Boston will have the two best players on the floor with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum is averaging 25.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season, and he's been even better recently. He has scored 20 points or more in 10 straight games, averaging 29.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest while shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range. Brown is also red-hot right now, shooting 42.2 percent from 3-point range in the last 16 games, and he is contributing 24.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 2020-21.
Defensively, the Celtics are also solid, and they face a favorable matchup against the Lakers. Los Angeles is the second-worst offensive team in the NBA since James suffered an injury, scoring only 1.03 points per possession. Beyond that, the Lakers are last in the NBA in ball security, turning the ball over on 15.8 percent of possessions for the season and 18.0 percent of possessions in the last 14 games.
Why the Lakers can cover
The Lakers boast the NBA's No. 1 defense, and that provides a sky-high baseline for overall effectiveness. Los Angeles is allowing only 1.055 points per possession for the season, and that figure drops to 1.013 per possession in the last 10 games. Frank Vogel's team ranks in the top five of the league in effective field goal percentage allowed (51.7 percent), blocked shots (5.5 per game) and turnover creation rate (15.2 percent), with top-10 marks in defensive rebound rate (74.6 percent) and free throw prevention rate.
On the other end, the Lakers are scuffling a bit without their top two players, but Los Angeles is a top-10 group in 2-point shooting (54.3 percent), field goal percentage (47.6 percent) and free throw creation rate. Boston struggles on the defensive glass and ranks in the bottom five in preventing free throw attempts defensively.
How to make Celtics vs. Lakers picks
SportsLine's model is leaning under on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 209 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits in over 60 percent of simulations. You can get that pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Celtics vs. Lakers? And which side of the spread hits over 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the spread you need to jump on, all from the model that is on a 95-59 roll on NBA picks.