Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview (12/13/22): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

The Boston Celtics (21-7) battle the Los Angeles Lakers (11-15) in a battle between historic rivals. Horford remains out for the Celtics, and Robert Williams is doubtful to make his season debut. On the other side, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Wenyen Gabriel are out for the Lakers.

Can Boston stop their two-game slide? Odds, predictions, starting lineups, and key matchups are below.

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds

Boston enters this matchup favored, as the spread is -3.5 Celtics with their moneyline at -155. Los Angeles’ moneyline can be found at +140, which means they must win 42% of the time to be profitable long-term. The 235.5 over under is the largest line of the day.

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction

Although this isn’t a home run play, I’m taking the Celtics to cover the spread.

Boston has certainly struggled over the past two games. Golden State won due to superior shooting, and the Clippers defended extremely well due to their plethora of lengthy defensive wings. However, the Lakers pose neither of these threats, as they rank 21st in eFG% and lack forwards minus LeBron and Walker.

Los Angeles loves to get out in transition; they rank 2nd in pace and 4th in transition frequency. Because their offense is often inefficient, transition points are a crutch for their production. Enter the Celtics, who rank 18th in pace and 4th in transition defense. They can weaponize their lethal defensive guards and forwards to limit transition opportunities and turn this contest into a halfcourt battle, where Boston ranks 1st in points per possession.

This game also features a battle of outside shooting and perimeter defense versus interior shooting and interior defense. The chart below displays net open+wide open 3PA and net FGA within 5 feet of the basket while adjusting for pace.

Lakers Celtics Shot Quality

The Celtics are producing far more high quality three-pointers, but the Lakers counter by producing more shots around the rim, which inherently have a high field goal percentage. It’s important to view their weaknesses though: Boston actually has more rim attempts than their opponents, while the Lakers are negative in the 3PA department. All of this is to say that the Celtics hold the shot quality advantage – a fantastic indicator for long-term success.

Now, shot quality doesn’t always translate to immediate wins, and individual matchups can break these trends based on personnel. That’s the concern for Boston, as Anthony Davis likely rampages through their front-court. Boston lacks their defensive aces in the middle (Horford & Rob), and Griffin doesn’t pose a threat to Davis. The Celtics need to constantly help inside and hope the Lakers continue their team 32.2 3PT%.

On the other end though, it’s unknown how the Lakers can adequately defend Tatum and Brown. Both require elite, long defenders, and yet Los Angeles owns exactly zero of these wings. They cannot allow open three-pointers to such a sharpshooting team, so they have to hope their isolation defense holds. Fortunately, Davis can lock down the paint, so the Lakers at least don’t have to help inside and leave the three-point line.

Overall, I expect this to be a close contest. Despite Davis’ expected dominance, Boston’s three-point advantage and transition defense swing this for me.

Betting Trends

  • Celtics are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS loss
  • Lakers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games
  • Celtics are 6-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings
  • Over is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings

Key Matchups

Which team will win the positional matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Blake Griffin vs. Anthony Davis

For the Lakers to win, Davis must accomplish three things: remain healthy throughout the game, dominate 1v1 opportunities, and control the boards. He can exploit Griffin all game for high percentage shots, but they don’t mean anything if he doesn’t convert them. Producing second chance points is also key against a Celtics team that ranks 1st in Offensive Rating. If Davis fails, then the Lakers future tonight appears grim.

Celtics Convert 3PA

Boston is superb at creating open three-pointers, but they have to sink them to gain any advantage. Over their past four games, they are 50 of 160 from three, or 31.2%. Boston cannot expect to cover if they continue their shooting slump, so it’s essential they rediscover their earlier form – they now rank 2nd at a 39.1 3PT%.

Boston Celtics Starting Lineup

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Grant Williams
C: Blake Griffin

Los Angeles Lakers Lineups

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Lonnie Walker IV
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis

Key Injuries

Boston Celtics Injuries: Al Horford (O), Robert Williams (D), Danilo Gallinari (O)

Los Angeles Lakers Injuries: LeBron James (P), Anthony Davis (P), Wenyen Gabriel (O), Juan Toscano-Anderson (O), Cole Swider (Q)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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