Celtics

Magic Johnson says he'd target Kyrie Irving for Lakers in free agency

Magic Johnson says he'd target Kyrie Irving for Lakers in free agency

Magic Johnson is free to "tamper" all he wants now that he's out as Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations.

He jumped at that opportunity Monday.

Johnson joined ESPN's "First Take" for a newsworthy interview in which he accused Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka of back-stabbing. But here's the part that will interest Celtics fans: When asked which free agent he'd target this summer if he was still with Los Angeles, Johnson named two players: Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.

"I would say Kawhi and Kyrie are the two guys," Johnson said. "One of those two."

That Johnson has Leonard and Irving atop a free-agent list that includes Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and other All-Stars is telling, considering Magic was directly involved in the Lakers' affairs just over a month ago and likely has good insight into which players are on LeBron James' wish list.

There also are reports that Irving has considered reuniting with James in L.A., although Stephen A. Smith reported last week a source close to Irving said there's "no way in hell" the Celtics guard signs with the Lakers.

That probably won't stop L.A. from pursuing Irving, though. While pushing back on the rumors of Leonard seeming like a lock to join the Clippers, Johnson added:

"Once you get into that room and you've got LeBron sitting there, everything changes."

Would LeBron and the Lakers be able to lure Irving from Boston or another suitor like the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets? If Magic was still in charge, it sounds like they'd make a strong push.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum leads NBA in this important fourth-quarter stat

Celtics star Jayson Tatum leads NBA in this important fourth-quarter stat

With all due respect to Isaiah Thomas, has a new "King in the Fourth" emerged for the Boston Celtics?

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has consistently come through in the clutch early in the 2019-20 NBA season, highlighted by a game-winning shot to beat the New York Knicks on Nov. 2.

In fact, Tatum enters Wednesday night's road game against the Los Angeles Clippers with the best league's best shooting percentage on shots to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Tatum also is shooting a team-best 66.7 percent in clutch situations, which the league defines as five minutes or less remaining and the score margin within five points.

The 21-year-old star is enjoying a tremendous third season overall, averaging 20.2 points and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game. He scored a season-high 26 points in Boston's win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. It was his third 20-point effort in the last four games.

Tatum is no stranger to clutch situations. He faced plenty of them as a rookie in the 2018 playoffs, where he led the Celtics in scoring as the team came up just one win shy of an NBA Finals appearance. If Tatum is able to remain a strong performer late in games throughout the season, the Celtics should be pretty tough to beat because we already know Kemba Walker is capable of excelling in clutch situations.

Marcus Smart reveals his pick for NBA's most unstoppable player>>>

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

NBA picks: Celtics vs. Clippers betting predictions, plays against the spread

NBA picks: Celtics vs. Clippers betting predictions, plays against the spread

We've got a marquee matchup at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

The 11-2 Boston Celtics will take on Paul George, (possibly) Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers in a matchup of two teams that look like serious NBA title contenders.

Our betting track record has been nearly as strong as the team in green, as we moved to 18-11-1 picking Celtics games following Boston's win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.

Leonard's uncertain status due to a knee injury makes Celtics-Clippers a tricky one to predict, but there are some notable trends worth considering as you head to the sportsbook.

Here are our moneyline, point spread and point total betting predictions for C's-Clippers, followed by two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Clippers, 10 p.m. ET

Moneyline: Wednesday night will be Boston's toughest test of the season, even if Leonard misses another game due to a left knee contusion. The Clippers are one of the few teams that can match the Celtics' depth and secondary scoring, while Paul George has been brilliant through his first three games (29.3 points per game). I'm riding with the Clippers (-250) at home.

Point Spread: The Celtics are 11-2 for a reason. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been excellent lately, and Kemba Walker have displayed his playmaking chops with 14 assists in his last two games. A lot hinges on Leonard's availability, but I think the Celtics (+6) keep this close and cover.

Point Total: Did the Celtics leave their offense back in Boston? The C's are averaging a paltry 101 points per game to begin their west coast trip, and the UNDER has hit in seven of L.A.'s nine home games this season. Boston may pull a fast one here, but I don't see this reaching the 218 point total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 18-11-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors (-3): The Magic are riding a three-game winning streak, but two of those wins came against the Spurs and Wizards. The Raptors are undefeated at home this season, so they should be able to cover this tiny spread.

Utah Jazz (-3.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves have been weirdly bad at home this season (3-4), and Utah is 5-2 against the spread in its last seven games against Minnesota. I like the Jazz snapping their mini-losing streak with a quality road win.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 10-9-1

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.