Lakers-Celtics: An Underwhelming matchup

February 6, 2019 11:57 PM

While hype for Thursday night’s featured TV attraction matching the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET) will involve the latest news on the Anthony Davis front, and the ever-evolving relationship between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and…sports bettors should be focused on finding investment value for the rest of the season.

Neither the Lakers nor the Celtics have offered much so far.

In fact, neither has much of a shot to match their market-projected “Regular Season Win Totals” from last October. 

  • Boston may be well over .500 at the moment…but the Celtics were priced to be a juggernaut. Markets settled in the 58.5 to 59 victory range as a best estimate. Some high profile pundits with Boston roots still thought that was too low. Boston now almost has to win out to finish 59-23. Just a few more losses will make Over bets a loser, Under bets a winner.
  • Los Angeles has had the lesser season, but against lesser expectations. Still, reaching the market threshold of 48 or 48.5 wins is a longshot from a current mark near .500. Can the Lakers win two-thirds of their remaining games to reach 48-34 amidst distractions of trade talk? 

(By the way, one NBA team has already passed its target! The Sacramento Kings had a very low hurdle of 25.5 victories. They earned win #26 on January 30 against Atlanta. Congrats if you saw that coming. The Brooklyn Nets could be next to cross the finish line, as this season’s Eastern Conference surprise quickly approaches its market target of 32.5 wins.)

If you’re just looking at game-by-game records against the spread, Boston has been near or below break-even much of the season. The anvil of vigorish (the 11/10 penalty bettors pay on losses) really adds up through a large set of games. A team going 30-30 against the number is the same as 30-33 in real-money terms. (That’s why 50/50 bettors lose money faster than they expect!) The Celtics do have time to get hot and earn a profit. But, that’s difficult because “hot Boston” will be laying a lot of points. The Lakers have been a money burner thus far, typical of LeBron James teams in the regular season. 

VSiN wishes we could tell you which team (if either) will earn bettors money down the stretch. The best we can do is encourage you to focus on “offensive efficiency” (scoring adjusted for pace) the rest of the way for clues to whether you should move beyond “fade or pass.” 

Boston is already #2 in the NBA on DEFENSE, and still isn’t topping market targets. Its offense will have to improve to clear high hurdles. The Lakers are in the bottom third of the league in this stat…and one of the worst “non-tankers.” A dismal #27 rank in offensive turnover rate is killing cohesion and flow.

 

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