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Los Angeles Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics Preview

There’s basketball, and then there’s Lakers-Celtics.

Thursday’s matchup between Los Angeles and Boston has been on the betting radar since Christmas, when the C’s went into Staples Center and got handed a 92-83 loss as 2-point underdogs. But it’s much more than that; it’s a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals, which the Celtics took in six games.And it’s a rematch of the other 10 times these clubs have met in the Finals, from the days of Bob Cousy and Jerry West to the seminal Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry that made the NBA a household commodity.

How great is this rivalry? Ask the public. The 2008 Finals brought in the biggest TV audience in four years for the championship round; the Dec. 25 game was also the league’s highest-rated regular-season game since 2004. The number of viewers jumped 51 percent from last year’s popular Lakers-Suns Christmas Day matchup. The folks at TNT are rubbing their hands with glee in anticipation of the big numbers they’re going to get for Thursday’s game – the first of their weekly doubleheader, with the tip-off at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

The Celtics lead the all-time rivalry 151 wins to 118, dating back to 1949 when the Lakers opened shop in Minneapolis. The numbers handicappers are looking at for Thursday are limited to this season and last. That covers the Kevin Garnett Era in Boston; the C’s were one of the Eastern Conference’s punching bags for most of the 20 years before Garnett and Ray Allen were added to the team in 2007. With the two star veterans joining Paul Pierce in the starting rotation, the Celtics won and covered both regular-season games against L.A. before going a perfect 6-0 ATS in the Finals.

NBA basketball betting lines from Bodog’s online sportbook.

Lakers supporters had hoped that the return to health of 7-foot, 285-pound center Andrew Bynum would give them the extra interior toughness to deal with Garnett and the Boston work ethic. Bynum held his own on Christmas Day with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, seven rebounds and a pair of blocks. His presence also freed up forward Pau Gasol to score 20 points, seven of those in the last three minutes as the Lakers pulled away for the win and the cover.Sports Betting at the Sportsbook

Which makes it all the more frustrating for the Lakers that Bynum suffered a torn MCL in his right knee, two weeks after the anniversary of last year’s season-ending injury to his left knee. The prognosis is a little better for Bynum this time – he’s expected to miss 8-12 weeks and avoid surgery, which could put him back on the floor in time for the playoffs. But that still leaves L.A. without one of its primary weapons Thursday night against the team with the best record in the league: 40-9 SU and 28-21 ATS.

This doesn’t mean an instant payday for the Celtics. The flu bug has been working its way through the Boston dressing room. Garnett was expected to miss Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia against the 76ers, and backup point guard Tony Allen is also reportedly under the weather. Both are day-to-day. Garnett wasn’t in the lineup on Sunday against his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who cashed in as 12-point road dogs despite losing 109-101.

If you’re looking for a parlay, the over is 11-9 for the Lakers on the road and a strong 15-10-1 at home for the Celtics. Or you could pair up with the second game of Thursday night’s doubleheader, the Dallas Mavericks (28-19 SU, 22-25 ATS) versus the Utah Jazz (26-22 SU, 23-25 ATS) at the former Delta Center. Dallas (-5) downed the Jazz 115-108 at home on Jan. 17 to ignite a 6-2 SU and ATS run. The Jazz, on the other hand, are a dissonant 2-6 SU and 1-7 ATS in their last eight games. Utah is missing both Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko from the frontcourt, and Team USA point guard Deron Williams is day-to-day with a thigh bruise. Tip-off is at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

Here are some more upcoming games worth your betting attention:

Friday: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG)
Saturday: Denver Nuggets at New Jersey Nets (7:30 p.m. ET, YES and NBA-TV)
Sunday: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers (3:30 p.m., ABC)

Get the latest NBA Wagering Odds at Bodog Sportsbook Today – Click Here >>


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Articles on CappersPicks.com are written by Q (the Head Honcho) at Cappers Picks or by our resident "in house" handicapper Razor Ray Monohan! Enjoy the free picks folks! "Pad that bankroll one day at a time!"