The Los Angeles Clippers look to keep things going back at home as they host Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics Monday night at STAPLES Center.
The Celtics are coming off a tough 109-106 loss in Phoenix Sunday afternoon and a coast-to-coast 115-95 victory of the LA Lakers Friday night. The Suns’ Tyler Ulis connected on a buzzer-beater following a steal — turnover charged to Isaiah Thomas — as Phoenix (+4.5, +160) scored five points in the final four seconds to stun Boston. With no OT following Eric Bledsoe‘s initial game-tying layup and Ullis’ three, the UNDER hit.
The Clippers head into Monday night’s matchup following a convincing 101-91 road win over the Chicago Bulls Saturday night. LA opened as a 5-point favorite, with the total set at 216. At the time of publication, they had moved up to -7.5, with the total up a point to 217.
What to Watch For
Defense with Isaiah: For all the attention IT’s offense has received, it’s been the exact opposite when debating his defensive impact. He’s ranked one of the worst individual defenders in the league, and the Celtics had a 120 defensive rating with Thomas on the floor vs the Suns. The Clippers — especially Chris Paul — will feast Monday night.
Defending the 3-point line: The Celtics connected on 16 three-pointers in their 107-102 victory over the the Clippers in February — in Boston. The Clippers are No. 9 in the league in opponent three-point percentage, and No. 10 in the league in opponent three-pointers made per game. Last time around, the Celtics made (16) about six-to-seven more shots from the three-point line than the Clippers normally give up.
FTs and FGs: Keep an eye on how many free throws the Celtics get, especially in the first half. If there’s one defensive category the Clippers struggle with is defending without fouling. LA is No. 18 in the league in opponent free-throws attempted per field goal attempted.
- The Celtics are 1-7 against the spread (ATS) in their last 7 games against Pacific division opponents.
- The Celtics are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games against the Clippers.
- The Clippers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Monday games.
- The Clippers are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games playing on one day of rest.
The Clippers — prior to the win in Chicago — were visibly frustrated with their play and made it clear the direction of this season needs to improve. Boston will be playing on the second night of a road back-to-back. Clippers cover, easily.
Update: If you can get LA at -5, take that. If it’s closer to -7.5, buy a point and take Boston.
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LA Clippers beat writer
Rohit is an L.A.-based sports journalist who contributes to SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll, AccuScore, and the Taxi Squad Show based out of Utah. He also runs his own sports blog, Metta Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter @RohitGhosh where he discusses AccuScore projection data, a variety of sports-related topics, and even some Jazz music.