Can Los Angeles Cover in Boston? (December 29)
Clippers vs. Celtics odds
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The Los Angeles Clippers will play their fourth straight game on the road when they travel to Boston to take on the Celtics on Thursday night.
The Clippers have played some great basketball on this road trip, winning two of three games. Additionally, Los Angeles has won seven of its last ten and is in fourth place in the Western Conference with a 21-15 record.
Meanwhile, Boston has played outstanding basketball all season and is 25-10, atop the Eastern Conference.
Both Boston and Los Angeles have played well, but will the Clippers be able to stay hot as they near the end of this long road trip or will the Celtics continue to prove why they are the best team in the NBA?
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have been on a tear lately and have dominated Eastern Conference opponents.
According to TeamRankings, the Clippers have played 14 games against teams from the East and are 10-4 in those contests. That’s a significant change from their 11-11 record against Western Conference opponents.
Additionally, the Clippers own a 112.9 offensive rating against the East this season, compared to a 107.5 mark against Western Conference opponents. That difference is likely due to the fact that LA is shooting an incredible 39.6% from behind the arc against Eastern Conference opponents this year, first in the NBA.
The most impressive aspect of the Clippers’ game has been their play on the defensive end of the floor. NBA.com has the Clippers ranked third in the NBA in Defensive Rating at 109.3, a rating that suggests they should be able to contain the league’s best offense.
The Boston Celtics had redemption on their minds at the start of the season after losing in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors. As we approach the halfway point, it looks like the Celtics are well on their way to getting a chance to avenge that series loss.
NBA.com has the Celtics ranked first in the NBA in Offensive Rating this season at 117.4. That’s more than a full point ahead of the second-place Suns and nearly a four-point improvement from Boston’s 113.6 rating from a season ago.
There was no doubt that this team would be one of the best scoring attacks in the league, but after the suspension of coach Ime Udoka there were some question marks about whether Boston would be as productive on the defensive side of the floor.
Boston posted the best defensive rating in the NBA (106.2) last season, but ranked 20th in the NBA in that category (112.4) at the end of November this season. However, during the month of December, the Celtics have improved their defensive rating to 107.0, which ranks second in the NBA this month. This team may have finally returned to its defensive roots.
Improving on the defensive end was a must if Boston wanted to return to the Finals, and now that they’ve accomplished that, the Celtics are arguably one of the strongest teams we’ve seen in recent seasons.
The Clippers-Celtics pick
Boston has proven to be a headache for many opponents, but if there’s one team built to stop the Celtics, it’s the Clippers.
We’ve already seen the Clippers beat the Celtics once this season, winning 113-93. In that game, the Celtics were limited to shooting just 43% from the floor and 23% from behind the arc.
I’ve already mentioned LA’s 10-4 record against Eastern Conference opponents, but when you consider they’re 9-5 against the spread in those games, 10-8 ATS on the road and have no one listed for injury. The report only further points to the Clippers staying competitive in this game. I would play the spread up to 4.5.
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