The Los Angeles Clippers are hosting the No.1 team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, tonight at Staples Center. The two sides, which aim the Larry O’Brien trophy, will no doubt put up an excellent show.
No Kawhi, no Problem – Paul George is Here
Kawhi Leonard will probably miss this one for the Clippers (9-5), due to his left knee injury. According to their head coach Doc Rivers, the Claw’s status won’t be disclosed until the start of the match, but the way he explained that indicates that he isn’t willing to risk Leonard’s health over one regular-season matchup. So far, the two-time NBA champion played nine games, leading his team to a 7-2 record with him on the court. Also, the sharpshooting guard Landry Shamet won’t play.
Nevertheless, the Clippers will have Paul George on board. PG has been masterful over the previous three games he played, averaging 29.3 points in 24.3 minutes on the floor, with a shooting percentage of 56.3% from the field.
The Clippers are the second-best team in league with 48.2 boards and are 8-1 at home since the start of the season.
Celtics Cruising Through the West
Meanwhile, the Celtics (11-2) were on a 10-game winning streak before thrillingly losing in Sacramento, with the game-winning shot getting out of the basket. But after that, they bounced back with a win in Phoenix to continue their tour through the Western Conference. Brad Stevens’ boys are first in the East and are one of the best defensive teams in the league. With 104.2 points allowed, they hold the seventh spot on the defensive rankings. Their trio Walker-Tatum-Brown leads the team, and it appears that letting go of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford suited this team very well.
The problem for the guests from Boston in this one, will most definitely be the status of Marcus Smart, one of the top defenders in the league. He is still being evaluated, and might skip this one. Smart would be in charge of George, so if he isn’t playing, Tatum will have to take over those duties, and take care of his already present attacking role as well.
The total is at 216.5 points. From this point of view, it is reasonable to bet on over, having in mind the fact that the Clippers average almost 27 free throws per game, and that the best defender among the opponents is not 100% fit. Also, hosts to cover the +5 spread is good. The Celtics will probably be a bit tired from all the trips they had recently, while on the other side, we have a ruthless host, eager to beat one of the biggest rivals for the title.