Game: Los Angeles Clippers @ Boston Celtics
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Odds: Clippers +6, Celtics -6
The NBA’s top team, the Boston Celtics, will host the Los Angeles Clippers tonight in an attempt to cap off a seven-game home stand with their fourth straight victory. In its last two games, Boston’s offense has exploded, scoring a season-high 139 points in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Christmas Day and then adding another 126 in a 126-102 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
Things are always a little easier with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, according to Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who had to play head coach on Tuesday. Interim head coach Joe Mazzulla was unable to lead Boston against the Rockets due to eye irritation so Stoudamire stepped in and did an admirable job.
For the second straight game and the ninth time in their careers, Brown (39 points) and Tatum (38) combined for at least 70 points, propelling the Celtics to victory in the second half. After three quarters, Boston led 92-81 before Houston outscored them 34-21 in the fourth quarter. Tatum and Brown, the only teammates in Celtics history to score 70 points combined in back-to-back games, make life simpler for everyone.
Robert Williams III played well coming off the bench, tallying a season-high 11 points and 15 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Williams has participated in five games since recovering from offseason knee surgery, but he has not started any of those games. Recently, Mazzulla said the Celtics’ big man might continue to play a bench role.
After winning both games in a back-to-back at Detroit and Toronto, the Clippers had Wednesday off. They won at Toronto on Tuesday 124-113 after coming back from 14 points down in a 142-131 overtime win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday. Los Angeles will play its fourth of five consecutive away games tonight.
In Toronto, the Clippers were led by Paul George and Ivica Zubac, who each scored 23 points. Zubac also grabbed 16 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass. Zubac has nine games this season with at least 15 rebounds.
Kawhi Leonard had 15 points, a season-high eight assists, and seven rebounds against his former team after sitting out the game on Monday due to load maintenance. All five Clippers starters reached double figures against the Raptors.
The Clippers were third in the NBA going into Wednesday in terms of opponent points per game (108.6) and opponent field goal percentage (45.4). Given that Boston’s offense (118.9) continues to lead the league in scoring average, something will have to give.
After losing to the Clippers 113-93 on December 12 in Los Angeles, Boston will attempt to tie the two-game season series. The Clippers’ win earlier this month was the third straight in the series between the two teams. George scored a game-high 26 points in that win. It was one of only two games this season in which Boston did not reach 100 points.
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