While it is still early in this NBA season, there are some teams we can already pencil into playoff spots. The 11-2 Boston Celtics and 9-5 Los Angeles Clippers are two of those teams in their respective conferences. They will face off in the Staples Center today in a big nationally televised matchup (10pm ET Wednesday on ESPN).
The Celtics will play the fourth game of a five-game West road trip on Wednesday, while the Clippers will be on the third game of a five-game homestand. The big storyline leading into this contest is that Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard might return to the lineup from a chronic knee injury to play his first game next to new star teammate Paul George. Regardless of that, though, these are two reasonably deep teams who play pretty well on both ends of the floor.
USAbetting will be analyzing some key X-factors for this NBA game before we advise how you should bet with our Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Clippers predictions.
Will Marcus Smart Push Through Pain to Make Impact for Celtics?
Smart suffered a mild ankle sprain in the Celtics’ win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday. Fortunately, he is expected to return today against the Clippers.
An All-Defensive First Team selection in 2018-19, Boston’s 25-year-old guard/forward is a defensive menace who uses his bulk (227 pounds at 6’3”) and quickness to cover a variety of players aggressively. In this contest, he could see time defending anyone from Lou Williams to Paul George to Kawhi Leonard to Montrezl Harrell.
If Smart pushes through the pain to provide his normal defensive intensity, that will be an inspiration and have a ripple effect on the rest of the Celtics’ players. However, if the injury is clearly bothering him, the Clippers will have a much easier time scoring against Boston.
Can Patrick Beverley Keep Kemba Walker in Check?
Walker is the heart of the Celtics’ offensive attack. The veteran point guard is an ace scorer who can also make plays for teammates when defenses key in on him. As such, Boston’s offense struggles significantly when Walker is limited.
When the Celtics have failed to score 100 points in a game this year, Walker averages just 15.3 points per game on a 44.4 true-shooting percentage. When Boston does crack the century mark, his averages shoot up to 25.7 points per game and a 65.1 true-shooting percentage.
The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley is one of the best point guard defenders in the NBA with his quickness and tenacious attitude. He has struggled on offense this season, but he continues to play hard on defense. If he can force Walker out of his comfort zone, the Clippers should have a great chance to win this game and keep the Celtics under 100 points.
It wouldn’t hurt for the Clippers if Beverley found his three-point stroke again. He is shooting just 10-of-53 (18.9 percent) from downtown this season despite being at 37.4 percent for his career.
Will Boston Keep Clippers From Taking too Many Free Throws?
Los Angeles ranks third in the NBA in free-throw rate and that is without ever having Kawhi Leonard and Paul George play together so far. Leonard, George, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are all foul magnets with their heady and aggressive offensive play.
If the Celtics are planning to stay competitive or even win this game, it is imperative that they play disciplined defense and stay out of foul trouble to keep the Clippers from getting easy points and in a rhythm at the free-throw line.
The Clippers have Beverley and George returning from injuries, as well as potentially Leonard, so they would benefit from a game slowed down by lots of free throws.
Our Betting Preview’s Boston Celtics vs LA Clippers Picks & Predictions Verdict
The Celtics have played a reasonably easy schedule, which is why I think their record might be a little bit misleading in terms of how good they really are. Boston is still a bit weak at the big man positions and its offense hasn’t been great as of late.
Los Angeles has played a stiffer schedule and the squad has one of the top net ratings in the NBA despite that. The Clippers have also been getting to relax at home a lot over the past several days, while the Celtics have been on the road awhile.
Add in a potential Kawhi Leonard return on the horizon and Paul George playing very well, this team is in good position to win at home by at least several points. So these are our USAbetting’s Boston Celtics vs LA Clippers predictions for the NBA game:
- Boston is favored by five points on the spread in this contest by the America-friendly, trustworthy sports betting sites. Wager on the Clippers -5pts @ -115 with BetOnline. Some of the other top firms are yet to publish their lines on this NBA game at the time of writing this preview.
- Both of these teams have had some injuries recently and are subbing players in and out of the lineup. This could have a negative impact on offensive chemistry and also lead to a slower pace. Both squads are also athletic teams that will usually play strong defense regardless of circumstances. As such, I would bet the under 216.5 total points @ -110 with BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.