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Celtics-Lakers Headline Friday’s NBA Action

Posted by Craig Parsons on 2/20/2014 8:47:55 PM

As the NBA season continues to wind down, sports bettors begin to get a clearer picture as to who the real championship contenders are. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are the clear favorites out of the East, but with how competitive the Western Conference has been this season there are a handful of teams that could be representing their conference in the NBA Finals. Thursday’s NBA action has a few of those contenders playing, but the big game of the night is when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers renew their storied rivalry.

Boston Celtics @ Los Angeles Lakers
Friday February 21, 2014 – 10:30 PM ET
Odds: Celtics -2

The only other time these teams faced off this season ended in a 107-104 Lakers victory. Going inside the box score, however, reveals that many Lakers players had their game of the year and will have a tough time duplicating that performance again. Kendall Mashall is proving to be a smart pickup however, and he is one player to watch closely as he could very well be the future at point guard for the Lakers. The Celtics on the other hand now have Rajon Rondo back in the starting lineup and as a result the team has won four of their last seven. Although they aren’t going to be a playoff team, the Celtics should only get better as the season progresses which is the reason they are my pick to beat the Lakers.

Pick: Celtics

Denver Nuggets @ Chicago Bulls
Friday February 21, 2014 – 8 PM ET
Odds: Bulls -6.5

The Denver Nuggets are still without Nate Robinson and Ty Lawson, so it will be tough for them to counteract the play of Jimmy Butler and D.J. Augustin. Both are averaging over 13 points per game in the month of February, and the most impressive aspect is that Augustin has been doing it from the bench. The Bulls have now won four games in a row, and aside from the increased efficiency from their guards, Taj Gibson has been a true x-factor for the team as of late. Gibson will bang down low with Kenneth Faried for most of the night, but the deciding factor will be the Bulls’ second ranked scoring defense and the fact that the Nuggets are without two of their more electric players.

Pick: Bulls

Utah Jazz @ Portland Trail Blazers
Friday February 21, 2014 – 10 PM ET
Odds: Trail Blazers -8.5

The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the many teams in the West that could be playing in the NBA Finals. They began the year hotter than any other team, but because of a recent letdown they are now 36-18 and the fifth seed in the West. It would take a real collapse for the Blazers to miss the playoffs, but if they don’t turn their game around soon they could be an afterthought come playoff time. Getting the victory against the Utah Jazz shouldn’t be that hard, but in-order for them to cover the spread they must step up their defense which has allowed five straight teams to score 98 points or more. Utah does only average 94 points per game, but the recent emergence of the Trey Burke and Alex Burks duo has me believing the Jazz will come within 8.5 points of the Blazers.

Pick: Jazz

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