Celtics

Irving's late surge not enough to overcome a rough start in loss to Lakers

Irving's late surge not enough to overcome a rough start in loss to Lakers

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving has been enjoying arguably his best season in the NBA, scoring, dishing and defending at a level we’ve never seen from him with this kind of consistency. 

But Irving will be the first to acknowledge that he’s not perfect and will have nights when he doesn’t shoot the ball as well as he would like. 

Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers was indeed one of those games for Irving whose struggles in many ways mirrored the play of the Celtics as a team, losing 129-128 to the Lakers on a buzzer-beating jumper from ex-Celtic guard Rajon Rondo. 

“I was sick,” said Jayson Tatum when asked about how he felt when Rondo corralled a loose ball and drained the game-winner with no time left. 

And while there were several factors that contributed to Boston’s loss which snapped a five-game winning streak, it’s hard to look past the shooting struggles of Irving despite a his strong showing in the latter stages of the game. 

“It was one of those games where you want to play better,” said Irving who had a team-high 24 points but did so on 6-for-21 shooting from the field. 

☘️LAKERS 129, CELTICS 128

Even with Irving struggling, the Celtics still had a chance to salvage the game with a victory and Irving’s play in the fourth quarter was key.

Irving had 11 of his 24 points in the fourth, including a driving bank shot with 11.5 seconds to play that put Boston on top 128-127.

On the ensuing Lakers possession, Brandon Ingram drove into the lane and had his shot blocked by Al Horford. The loose ball found its way into the hands of Rondo who drained the game-winning shot from 20-feet out as time expired. 

☘️POST-DEADLINE ACTION?

Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the game’s ending was indicative of the kind of night it was for his team. 

“I thought the basketball gods rewarded the right team,” Stevens said. “I hate to say that, but we had a chance to wrap that game up with a rebound. But that was kind of the whole night.”

Especially for Irving who missed 15 of his first 18 shots but made all three of his field goal attempts in the fourth quarter. 

A six-time All-Star, Irving has set a ridiculously high standard for excellence with his play. That makes nights like the one he experienced on Thursday stand out for all the wrong reasons. 

Irving has been dealing with an assortment of injuries, but it’s clear that no one is using that as an excuse or justification for his struggles on Thursday night. 

“Just one of those nights, you know?” Stevens said. “We all expect him to put on the cape every night and it’s pretty impressive that on a night where he struggles, in the last six minutes of the game he can do what he did and make the shots he made.”

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Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

The Boston Celtics are back to their winning ways ... and so are we.

The Celtics' current hot streak -- four consecutive wins -- coincides with our good luck on the betting front, where we're 4-0 picking the moneyline and point spread in Boston's last two games.

The C's face a tough test Wednesday night when they roll into Bankers Life Fieldhouse to play the Indiana Pacers, who are in the Eastern Conference hunt at 15-9.

How will Wednesday's game shake out? Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Pacers, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. ET

Moneyline: Gordon Hayward showed virtually no rust in his return Monday night as the Celtics rolled to their sixth win in seven games. The Pacers have been inconsistent over the last two weeks, so I think Boston's talent wins out here. Take the Celtics (-120).

Point Spread: Indiana is a pedestrian 5-5-2 against the spread at home this season. The Celtics have won seven of their last games in Indiana and are well-rested after whupping the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers will put up a fight, but Celtics (-1) is the smart bet here.

Point Total: The Celtics boast the NBA's second-best defense. The Pacers are sixth. The total has gone under in nine of Boston's last 12 games and four of Indiana's last five games. Sign me up for the UNDER on the 209.5 point total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 32-21-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors (+2.5): If I'm on the Raptors, I really want to beat Kawhi Leonard in his return to Toronto. The Clippers are 5-6 on the road this season, and it should be quite the hostile environment Wednesday. I'm backing the home team.

Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls (-5): The Hawks are coming off a brutal overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday (Trae Young called game ... for the wrong team) and haven't won the second leg of a back-to-back yet this season. Chalk this up as a scheduled loss.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 20-15-1

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

The last time the Celtics faced the Pacers, Boston swept Indiana out of the playoffs with a four-game sweep, with each win coming by 10 points or fewer.

But this year's Pacers club is much different than last year's. Three of Indiana's top four scorers this season — Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, and Jeremy Lamb — are in their first seasons with the Pacers.

Luckily for the C's, they won't have to contend with Victor Oladipo, who is currently on a rehab assignment in the G-League.

The Celtics are currently riding a four-game win streak and just got Gordon Hayward back in the lineup, while the Pacers are coming off an 11-point loss in Paul George's first game back to Indianapolis since joining the Clippers.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 7 p.m. ET or stream it via the MyTeams app

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ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 6 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Chris MannixMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, Chris Forsberg, Tom Haberstroh, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

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