Celtics vs. Nets Game 4 Preview: Will Boston Shut the Door on Brooklyn?

The Boston Celtics have the moment and a 3-0 lead against the Brooklyn Nets in their series. Matt Moore explains why he's betting this series to end in a sweep.

Celtics vs. Nets Odds

Celtics Odds +1.5 
Nets Odds -1.5 
Over/Under 220.5 
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds via <!–BetMGM–>BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Boston Celtics have outclassed the Brooklyn Nets who were the title favorite for much of the season. Boston has had answers at every turn, shut down Kevin Durant, embarrassed the Nets’ defense and Jayson Tatum has arrived as a premier, elite player on the biggest stage.

Now, facing elimination, the Nets have one last chance to save their season. What could go wrong?

Let’s bet Celtics-Nets Game 4.

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Boston Firing on All Cylinders

Al Horford has been a huge factor in this series. The Celtics are +22 with him on the court court and -8 with him on the bench.

Daniel Theis has been phased out for the most part, so if you can find under props on him, that’s a play. Robert Williams should play more in this one, which is another advantage for the Celtics. They may not need it, but every advantage is nice.

NBA teams leading 3-0 are 29-15 in Game 4 all-time straight up (44-0 for the series).

Boston doesn’t seem like the kind of team to let up. They’re hungry and know what they’re up against.

It’s also notable that the Celtics haven’t shot outrageously well relative to their standard. Boston has shot 0.04 percentage points better than expected based on shot quality, according to Second Spectrum. The Celtics are creating better looks than Brooklyn and hitting about what they should be hitting. There’s no variance wizardry here. They’ve just been better.

Will Kevin Durant Get Back on Track?

After signals pointed to Ben Simmons playing, the Nets announced Simmons is out for Game 4.

If you’re looking to bet the Nets here … well, first off, good luck to you as someone who bet Nets on the series and in Games 1 and 2. Second, you’re basically assuming Durant is going to figure out whatever has been going on with him.

If you’re a Celtics fan, you think Durant has been shut down by the Celtics’ unbeatable defense and you’ve got a pretty good case. According to Second Spectrum data provided to Action Network, 95.6% of Durant’s shots have been contested in this series.

The best way to describe what’s happening is that Durant is taking low-percentage shots he usually makes at a high rate and shooting worse than an average player when it comes to those looks.

Durant is taking low-percentage shots even for his profile and missing them worse than his one-of-one talent should. How much of that is the way the Celtics contest his shots relative to all other personnel? Or is it all the work the Celtics are doing to make him work before the catch?

Regardless, the bigger issue here is the Brooklyn defense. The Nets have a 118.6 defensive rating, third-worst in the playoffs behind Denver and Toronto. They haven’t been able to get any stops, which was always a concern.

There’s a pretty obvious rotational adjustment to make.

Nic Claxton has a 113 defensive rating in this series. Not great, but better. Andre Drummond has a 120 defensive rating. The Nets have only lost the Claxton minutes by two, literally the Jayson Tatum game-winner in Game 1. They’ve lost the Drummond minutes by 22 and won the minutes Drummond hasn’t played by eight.

So in Game 3, once the floodgates had already opened, Steve Nash dusted off Blake Griffin, who hit two threes and gave the Nets some life before ending up a -4. Sad trombone.

So now the question is if Nash will dust off LaMarcus Aldridge. That may not be a magic solution … OK, it’s definitely not going to be a magic solution. But Aldridge is a smarter defender than Drummond. It’s worth a look because everything’s worth a look for the Nets.

What would a Nets win in Game 4 look like?

Durant responds with an epic performance, Irving shoots like he did in Game 1. Claxton starts, which changes the tenor of the first quarter. Drummond and/orAldridge abuses the small-ball second unit with Grant Williams on the glass. The Celtics have a bad shooting night and the Nets extend the series.

Celtics-Nets Pick

If you’re going to bet it, I think the bet has to be Boston. We’ve seen the Raptors and Nuggets get wins down 3-0 with less talent than the Nets, but those teams, to be honest, have more heart.

I don’t necessarily want to bet on the heart or lack thereof, but there’s objectively no real sign that the Nets can figure this out. Even if they get better offensive performances, they can’t get stops. Even if they somehow get a game where the Celtics miss shots, their offense is unimaginative and doesn’t punish weaknesses.

The coaching matchup is enough for me to get to Celtics moneyline at a plus number.

Pick: Celtics ML (+106)