A. Sherrod Blakely joins to discuss if the Celtics' long-term plans would change if LeBron James left Cleveland to go to the West after next season.
The Boston Celtics won't have Kemba Walker for Wednesday night's matchup against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
The veteran point guard will miss his fourth straight game after the C's officially ruled him out Wednesday afternoon. Walker has been dealing with a sore left knee and has not played on the Celtics' road trip, which ends in Utah.
The 29-year-old star last played for the Celtics in their win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 13. He played three days later in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, including a long stint in the fourth quarter when the matchup got really competitive. Should Walker have played in the All-Star Game given the situation with his knee? No, probably not, but the team is taking the right approach by sitting him now and not letting the injury get worse.
The Celtics will need Walker to be healthy and ready to go come playoff time. If he has to miss a few games in February and March for that to happen, so be it. Walker is averaging 21.8 points, five rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season.
Second-year center Robert Williams (left hip bone edema) also has been ruled out for Wednesday night's game versus the Jazz.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.
If the Boston Celtics want to be legitimate title contenders, they'll need to win tough games.
Enter Wednesay's contest against the Utah Jazz, who sit fifth in the Western Conference standings and host a Celtics team on the second night of a road back-to-back.
Boston took care of business Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers but will be without Kemba Walker again as the All-Star guard recovers from a knee injury.
That means the Celtics will need Jayson Tatum to stay piping hot if they want to earn a win as rare underdogs against Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz.
Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Jazz, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.
(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)
Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz, 10:30 p.m. ET
Moneyline: The Jazz have lost three in a row out of the All-Star break and just took Mike Conley out of the starting lineup. Boston's only two losses in its last 12 games are to the Lakers and Rockets. That's enough evidence for me to take the underdog Celtics (+180).
Point Spread: The Celtics (+5) have covered in 12 of their 16 games as underdogs this season, the second-best rate (behind the Lakers) in the NBA. They ride Tatum to victory against a Utah team that's 3-9 against the spread in its last 12 games.
Point Total: I'm always tempted to take the under whenever the defensive-minded Jazz are involved, but these teams have hit the over in four of their last six meetings. Expect the point total to go OVER a modest 218.5 point total.
Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 78-44-1 (63.4% success rate)
NBA Lock of the Night
Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat (-11): The tanking Timberwolves have covered just twice in their last 15 games and have lost three consecutive games by double digits. They stand no chance in Miami against the NBA's second-best home team (23-3).
Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks (+4): The Hawks are awful on the road but have won six of their last seven at home. Trae Young carries Atlanta over a Magic team that's 3-10 against the spread over its last 13 contests.
Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 39-41-1 (48.1% success rate)