LeBron James looking up

Nov 2, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) during a stoppage in play against the Houston Rockets in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

  • LeBron James could return for Lakers in Boston to take on Celtics Friday night
  • Both NBA blue-blood franchises have struggled to start the season
  • The odds and matchups can be found below with a prediction

The Los Angeles Lakers need their King.

If LeBron James does in fact return to LA’s lineup Friday night in Boston against the Celtics, it will go a long way to getting the 8-8 Lakers into the thick of the West race.

Their longtime blue-blood opponent hasn’t fared much better, as Celtics are just 7-8 as their young superstar duo are working through injury and inconsistency.

Even with James’ imminent return, Boston is still a 2-point favorite when they tip off at TD Garden at 7:30pm ET.

The game can be seen live on ESPN.

Lakers vs Celtics Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Los Angeles Lakers +108 +2 (-110) OFF
Boston Celtics -126 -2 (-110) OFF

Odds as of Nov 18 at FanDuel

Injury Report

James has been out the last eight games and has only played in 10 of the Lakers’ 16 games this season. LA has staggered to a 3-5 mark in this most recent absense.

LeBron went through an on-court workout before Wednesday’s game in Milwaukee, according to an ESPN report. While going through ballhandling and shooting drills, he paused the workout on several occasions to crouch down and stretch out his abdomen. The latest reports say that he’s 50-50 to suit up in Boston.

LA will also be without guard Kendrick Nunn (knee), who’s yet to play a game this season. Ditto Trevor Ariza, who underwent recent ankle surgery and is out at least eight weeks. Austin Reaves (hamstring) is out at least two weeks. Anthony Davis was on the injury report with a quad contusion, though he’s listed as probable.

For the Celtics, there’s a chance all-star wing Jaylen Brown finds his way back into the lineup, as he’s been nursing a hamstring injury. Brown, the current leading scorer on the team, has missed six straight games, and hasn’t played since a Nov. 4 win over the Miami Heat. Center Robert Williams (knee) is considered questionable.

Lakers’ Recent Results

Los Angeles is playing the second of a five-game road trip. Things didn’t start so well in the opener Wednesday, as the Lakers dropped a 109-102 decision to the Milwaukee Bucks. LA had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who shredded them for 47 points on 18-for-23 shooting, adding nine rebounds and three assists.

That interior defense of the Lakers has been almost non-existent this year. They’re second-last in the NBA in points allowed in the paint, giving up 50.6 a night. Only the Sacramento Kings are worse, but they’re the only two clubs to surpass that 50-point plateau.

Overall, LA is a distant 28th in points allowed per game, giving up 112.3 a night. They’re in the bottom half of both field goal and three-point shooting D, but they’re getting burned on the glass — the Lakers are 4th-worst in offensive boards allowed.

Perhaps the one good nugget of news amidst this chaotic start for LA has been the nice return to the lineup of second-year man Talen Horton-Tucker. He led the team in scoring against the Bucks, potting 25 points on 9-for-18 from the field, while adding 12 boards and three dimes. Davis had 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Celtics’ Recent Results

Considering they started the year 2-5, the Celtics have been fighting uphill, and it’s certainly been a struggle. Last time out, they were handled 110-99 in Atlanta against the Hawks.

Atlanta was able to shoot 50.6% from the field for the game, including 13 three-balls. Jayson Tatum had a game-high 34 points to go along with nine boards, but Boston just couldn’t make enough shots.

The C’s went just 11-for-41 from downtown (26.8%), and though they went 1-2 on a three game road trip, they failed to cross the 100-point threshold in any of the contests.

It’s been a sluggish start for Tatum, who’s averaging 24.2 points on the year, though he’s shooting just 39.6% from the field. and a subpar 32.5% from deep.

The team has also had some infighting, which may have a lingering effect on what we’re seeing on the court. Boston has yet to put together anything more than a 2-game win streak on the season.

Defensively, Boston is just outside the top-10 in both field goal and three-point defense, while ranking 14th in points allowed.

Lakers vs Celtics Betting Prediction

Boston is a respectable 8-6-1 ATS on the season, and 2-3 ATS at home. The Lakers are 6-10 ATS on the year, one of four teams that is into double-digit L’s against the spread. They’re 2-2 ATS on the road.

The James factor looms largest in this matchup — and really, when isn’t LeBron the most important factor in an outcome? He’s especially lethal at the Garden.

In 54 career regular-season games he’s averaging 28.9 points per game, second all-time to his output as a visitor in Cleveland. Assuming he plays, take the best player on the court to deliver a W.

The Pick: Lakers +2 (-110)

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