(35-11, 22-22-2 ATS)
Los Angeles Lakers
(33-14, 21-25-1 ATS)
Last season, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers slugged it out for seven brutal games to determine the NBA Championship. The Lakers got the better of the C's on that night, winning three of the four games that were played here in Staples Center, but Boston will look for its revenge on Sunday in a nationally televised NBA betting affair on ABC.
Assuming that Glen Davis ends up missing no time with his slight hamstring injury, the Celtics are going to be at as close to full strength as they are going to be for the next few months in this one. They're coming off of a game against the Phoenix Suns that was a real embarrassment, as they couldn't even find a way to get any of the stars to really shine in a brutal 88-71 loss against one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. Ray Allen only had eight points, while Rajon Rondo shot just 1-for-6 from the field and had seven points. Still, this is a team that prides itself on defense, and there was nothing wrong with the way that that facet of the game went for the men from Beantown. Boston is keeping teams down to an insane 91.5 points per game this year, and clubs are only shooting 43.8 percent from the floor against it. On the other side of the coin, the C's are shooting just under 50 percent as a team as well, making them the most efficient team in the league.
The Lakers were once again booed off their home court on Friday night, as they were beaten by five points by the lowly Sacramento Kings at Staples Center as 12 point favorites. It was a real shift for a team that really looked like it had found its stride having beaten down the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets in its previous two games, but the slip to one of the worst teams in the game showed just how dangerous every team remains against the defending champs. These next three home games are crucial, especially this one and the one that closes this five game home stand against the San Antonio Spurs, as there is a good chance that these could be the last two teams that LA has to go through to win the NBA title in this, Head Coach Phil Jackson's last season as the team's coach. Once again, we really can't blame Kobe Bryant for that loss to Sacramento. He scored 38 points and had seven assists, which raises his scoring average up to 25.1 points per game this year. Pau Gasol only had nine points and 11 boards, while Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom only combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds.
It's not often that the Lakers lose two straight at home, but there is a decent chance that that could be how this plays out on Sunday. Boston really wants to make a huge statement to the rest of the league now that it is healthy, and there is no better scene to do it on than the one it will have this weekend. The C's were caught napping in the typical look ahead game. They'll be alive and well on Sunday and should keep this one very, very close.
NBA Free Pick: Boston Celtics