The Daily Sweat: Lakers, who have worst ATS record in NBA, host improving Celtics

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Even at a time when both teams are off to uneven starts to the season, there’s always plenty of excitement when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers square off.

These are two historic franchises with a rivalry that spans decades. They haven’t met in the NBA Finals since 2010, but it’s always a matchup that draws a lot of interest. And with so much star power on both rosters, understandably so.

The Lakers are 12-12, and the core of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony has struggled to get into a groove. They are 4-6 over their last 10 games and most recently lost 119-115 to the Clippers on Friday night.

The Celtics are 13-11 overall and are in the midst of a five-game West Coast road trip. They dropped 145 points in a decisive win over the Blazers on Saturday night and are hoping that hot shooting can carry over into Tuesday night’s showdown in Los Angeles.

Jayson Tatum, ninth in the NBA in scoring at 25.2 points per game, has especially been playing at a high level and leading the charge for the Celtics while Jaylen Brown has been dealing with a hamstring injury. Brown is listed as questionable for Tuesday night.

The Lakers are 2.5-point favorites at BetMGM with the total currently sitting at 219.5.

The Lakers have been the worst team in the NBA against the spread this season. They are just 8-16 against the number, including 4-11 at home and 3-12 as the favorite.

The Celtics have been far more kind to bettors. They are 13-10-1 against the spread, including 9-4-1 ATS on the road. As an underdog, the Celtics are 4-3-1 ATS.

As far as the total, the over is 10-5 in Lakers home games. The Celtics have been an under team for most of the year (13-10-1), but their last two games have gone over the total by 57.5 and 51 points, respectively. Yes, those numbers are correct.

Last week against the Jazz, the total was 209.5 and the final score was a 137-130 loss. Against Portland the next night, the Celtics won 145-117 when the total was 211.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) controls the ball during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) controls the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

It’s a light NBA card

Aside from the Lakers-Celtics game, there are only two other NBA games on Tuesday night’s slate and both feature road favorites.

First, the Dallas Mavericks host the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are 3.5-point road favorites with the total listed at 218.5 at BetMGM. This game features an awesome matchup of Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic, two of the NBA’s leading scorers. Durant leads the league with 28.6 points per game while Doncic is eighth at 25.4 ppg.

Dallas has been struggling lately and is just 11-11 on the year after losing seven of their last 10. The Mavs are just 9-13 against the spread this season. At 16-7, the Nets have the best record in the Eastern Conference. That includes an 8-2 record on the road. However, the Nets are 8-14-1 ATS this year.

The other NY team, the Knicks, is also in action. The Knicks are 2.5-point favorites on the road against the San Antonio Spurs. The total is 211.5.

The Knicks, after a strong start to the season, are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and are now 11-12 on the year. The Spurs are 8-14 and have one of the worst records in the West.

The Knicks have a 10-13 ATS record. The Spurs are 13-9, sixth-best in the NBA.

What about college basketball?

There are some fun non-conference matchups on the card, including Texas Tech traveling to No. 13 Tennessee and Syracuse and No. 6 Villanova squaring off at Madison Square Garden.

The Vols are just 4.5-point favorites over the Red Raiders, who are 6-1 but most recently lost on the road against Providence. Tennessee is also 6-1 this year, but has faced a much more challenging schedule. UT has a loss to Villanova but also beat North Carolina and Colorado.

The Syracuse-Villanova game is the rekindling of an old Big East rivalry. The fact that it’s being played at MSG is an added bonus. The Wildcats are 8.5-point favorites in this one over an Orange team that is coming off a double-overtime home win over Indiana and a road win over Florida State. 

Before those wins, the Orange had lost three of four. Villanova is 6-2 on the year, but its two losses are to UCLA and Purdue, two of the top five teams in the country.

Villanova's Jay Wright coaches during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Villanova's Jay Wright coaches during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Elsewhere, there is one Big Ten game on the slate with Michigan traveling to Lincoln to face Nebraska. The Wolverines, now unranked, are off to a bit of a slow start at 5-3. Nebraska, now in its third season under Fred Hoiberg, is 5-4 after consecutive road losses to NC State and Indiana.

Michigan is favored by 6.5 points in this one as Nebraska is typically much tougher at home. The Huskers won just seven games last season but were 5-4 ATS at home against Big Ten opponents — all as underdogs.

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