In a matchup between historic rivals, the Boston Celtics (22-6) take on the Los Angeles Lakers (16-14) this Christmas Day (12/25/23). Get Celtics vs. Lakers moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction
The Celtics are 8-2 during December and outscoring opponents by 10.6 points per 100 possessions over this span. They sit in an excellent position to continue their success here.
Los Angeles is allowing the 6th most open plus wide open three-point attempts per 100 possessions (via NBA.com). Unfortunately for them, Boston leads the league in three-point attempt rate and owns a quality 37.8 3PT% – good for 10th best. They constantly field five shooters on the court at all times, which doesn’t bode well for Los Angeles’ porous three-point defense.
Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford’s spacing also forces Anthony Davis to often leave the paint, thus reducing his elite rim protection. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will subsequently create advantages via drives, especially since the Lakers lack dominant weak-side rim protectors.
On the other end, Los Angeles thrives attacking the basket and struggles mightily to connect from deep, which is the exact opposite of Boston’s defensive identity. The Celtics surrender the third most open plus wide open three-point attempts per 100 possessions while allowing the lowest finishing at the rim expected points per possession (via ShotQuality).
Porzingis’ elite rim protection should stifle Los Angeles, and they possess the players to pester Los Angeles even if he remains sidelined. Derrick White is one of the best non-big rim protectors in the NBA, and Al Horford can hold his own despite his age. The Lakers simply don’t have the outside shooters to capitalize to the point of overcoming Boston’s offense.
Overall, Boston is a well-oiled machine with the parts to efficiently score in a variety of ways. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is too reliant on LeBron James to create offense, thus exposing themselves to Boston’s elite defenders.
Taking the Celtics against the spread is the best bet for this matchup.
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction: Celtics -2
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Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Best Odds
The Celtics are two-point favorites, so the books are expecting a close contest. Los Angeles must win this Christmas game about 46 percent of the time for their +120 moneyline to be profitable in the long run.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Injuries
Kristaps Porzingis, Luke Kornet, and Svi Mykhailiuk are all questionable for Boston, while off-season acquisition Gabe Vincent’s knee injury continues to hold him out. If Porzingis cannot suit up, then veteran Al Horford will get the start.
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Key Matchups
Austin Reaves’ Offense
Reaves is heating up off the bench for the Lakers. Across his past eight games, Reaves has averaged 19.9 points and 5.9 assists on elite 51/40/90 shooting splits. He’s one of the few players on the Lakers that can handle the ball, create for himself and others, and shoot efficiently.
Given Boston’s worrisome three-point defense, Reaves is in line for a big game from deep. It would alleviate a portion of the scoring burden from James and Davis, as well as open up the court for their interior shots. If Reaves turns in another robust 20 and six performance, then Los Angeles has a fighting chance.
Al Horford’s Defense
With Porzingis nursing a sprained ankle, Horford may see an increased role. The 37-year-old is still a mobile defender, and his defensive IQ has him well-positioned on contests. Anthony Davis must have a monster performance for the Lakers to win, so Horford’s defensive production will be key here. Can he avoid sending Davis to the free throw line? Can he get a hand up on LeBron James’ drives? Will he knock down threes on the offensive end to discourage Davis’ drop coverage? Horford is the X Factor for Boston given his matchup against Davis on both ends of the court.