Celtics look to surprise Lakers

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers make their only regular-season visit to TD Garden to face the Boston Celtics on Monday night. Of course, you can never be certain about player availability in this league until tip-off. 

The Lakers might be looking to ration their minutes amid a five-games-in-eight-days barnstorm through Houston, Boston, New York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. 

Will the Celtics be able to take advantage if the Lakers are pacing themselves? Boston has been dealing with its own schedule challenges recently. After Saturday night’s 123-119 home loss to Phoenix as five-point favorites, the Celtics are 2-6 straight up in their last eight games and 5-8 against the spread in their last 13. For the season, Boston is 27-14 straight up and 23-16-2 ATS.

In its 10th game in 16 days, Boston played tired defensively vs. Phoenix. The Celtics allowed 123 points on just 108 possessions, letting the Suns top 50% on 2-point shots and 40% on 3-point shots while putting them on the line for 30 free throws. If not for a career shooting night from Marcus Smart on 3-pointers, it would have been an even bigger Suns scorcher. 

Though they face no back-to-backs on the immediate horizon, Boston will play every other day until the All-Star break. Counting Monday’s meeting with the Lakers, that’s 13 games from now through Feb. 13.

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