Lakers vs. Celtics Free NBA Picks and Odds Breakdown

Will Lakers’ superstar LeBron James #23 be back tonight? Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Editor’s note: With the announcement, prior to tip-off, of Lebron James being active, the pick has been updated to: Boston getting the points.

The banana boat is about to fill up again. According to the latest “Woj Bomb” from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, LeBron James (abdominal) could make his return to the Los Angeles Lakers a little earlier than expected – maybe even as soon as Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Details are still scarce at press time, and the NBA odds are understandably on hold, but there’s a classic betting angle you can use to make a sharp pick once James’s status is revealed.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

Friday, November 19, 2021 – 07:30 PM EST at TD Garden

The James Gang

The angle, in this case, is quite simple: Follow the team with the missing superstar. This isn’t anything groundbreaking; back in the day, sharps made a pretty penny anytime someone of James’s caliber was taken out of the lineup. The betting public would see pending disaster, put too much money on the other side, and the NBA lines would start steaming in response.

Profit margins aren’t quite as large these days, but James’s legacy keeps growing, even as he enters the twilight of his career – and performs more like an All-Star than an MVP candidate.

The Lakers (8-8 SU, 6-10 ATS) lost money in the six games LeBron played before going on the injured list, going 4-2 SU and 1-5 ATS; they’ve broken even since then, but now that other injured players like Wayne Ellington and Talen Horton-Tucker are back in the mix, L.A. has gone 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS in their last six while they wait for James’s return.

Father Time Is Undefeated

If James does suit up Friday night, the Celtics (7-8 SU, 9-6 ATS) are in a good position to take advantage – although they also have two key players listed as day-to-day in Jaylen Brown (hamstring) and Robert Williams (knee).

This has been a rough start to the year for Boston, but they’re 5-3 SU and 7-1 ATS in their last eight, thanks in large part to the re-acquisition of Al Horford, who fits in very well with what the C’s are doing. Also, as a general rule, it takes players a game or two to shake off the rust once they come back from an extended injury layoff.

James has become increasingly prone to breaking down now that he’s in his late 30s, so sharp bettors won’t expect too much of him Friday night if he plays. And the Celtics might even have access to some inside information on their longtime rivals, courtesy of Dennis Schroeder, who famously whiffed on signing a lucrative extension with L.A. and had to settle for a one-year deal with Boston.

It’s possible you’ll have all the information you need by the time you read this to make an educated NBA pick, but at press time, all we can tell you is to wait for the morning shoot-around, see if James is going to be in uniform, and bet accordingly.

NBA Pick: Celtics +1.5 (-110) at BetMGM