Lakers vs. Celtics: Keep An Eye On The Injury Report

Joe Dellera previews Friday's NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, including betting odds and a prediction.

Lakers vs. Celtics Odds

Lakers Odds +2
Celtics Odds -2
Over/Under 214.5 (-110 / -110)
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Lakers and Celtics both suffered losses on Wednesday night and look to stop their respective slides. With both teams anxiously awaiting news on returning stars, let’s examine the scenarios so we can be prepared.

Los Angeles Lakers: Keep An Eye On LeBron’s Status

The Lakers have two significant stars on their injury report. While Anthony Davis is probable (thigh) and expected to play, LeBron James (abdominal) is listed as questionable and is 50/50 to play in this contest at TD Garden. His presence is crucial to the Lakers’ chances in not only this game but their season-long prospects.

The Lakers desperately need some help. Since LeBron’s last game (No. 2), the Lakers are just 3-5 with the league’s third-worst point differential (-11.4). They’re a bottom-of-the-barrel team, and in this stretch they’re nestled between the Rockets, Magic and Pelicans — all teams firmly entrenched in a rebuild. It’s not a good look for a team with title aspirations.

While Talen Horten-Tucker (23.3/7.3/2.0) has been absolutely incredible in the three games he’s played since returning from injury, he cannot replace the King. LeBron holds a +12.6 point differential per 100 possessions; he is the Lakers’ engine both offensively and defensively.

More importantly, he literally turns Russell Westbrook from a net negative to a positive. Possessions with Westbrook and without James are a -9.5, insert James and they move to a +2.4, per Cleaning the Glass. Westbrook is not the only thing that’s wrong with the Lakers, but this illustrates just how important LeBron James is to this team.

Boston Celtics: Brown’s Return Would Be Big

The Celtics are dealing with their own injury woes as well. They have listed Robert Williams (knee) as out, and Jaylen Brown (elbow) was just upgraded to questionable after missing the last six games.

The Celtics are sitting in ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 7-8 record, but they’ve played better than their record suggests. They have the 13th-ranked Point Differential per 100 possessions (+1.8) and it’s largely due to their defense, which is top 10 in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. 

If Brown is able to return in some capacity it should help this team on both sides of the ball. He’s a strong wing scorer and defender who should cut a bit into Jayson Tatum’s usage and send Dennis Schroder back to the bench.

What is even more significant, is the tandem of Tatum and Brown. When they both are on the floor the Celtics are +11.1 points per 100 possessions and their defense has excelled as they only surrender 96.7 points in those possessions.

Moreover, it should help the Celtics’ rotations overall. When at least one of Tatum or Brown is on the floor their point differential is +3.3. When both are off the floor the Celtics are -9.8, per Cleaning the Glass.

Lakers-Celtics Pick

Given the injury news, it is difficult to give a straight pick at this opening line of Celtics -2. Both LeBron and Brown dramatically impact their team’s performance, but we know how Brown will impact the Celtics while this Lakers’ team is still in flux.

Here are some options: If LeBron and Jaylen Brown play I think this line might move to a pick’em, in which case I’d take the Celtics. If LeBron plays and Brown is out, I’d take the Lakers down to -1.5. If Brown plays but LeBron does not, then I would absolutely take the Celtics to -4. If neither are able to suit up I would take Celtics -2.

Injury news is critically important when betting the NBA. One of the best tools at your disposal is The Action Network’s NBA Injury Report, or turn your tweet notifications on FantasyLabs NBA for up-to-the-minute injury and lineup news.

Pick: Wait for injury news regarding LeBron James and Jaylen Brown but overall lean Celtics