Celtics vs. Suns Betting Preview: Boston Has Edge In Powerhouse Battle

Kenny Ducey previews Wednesday's NBA game between the Celtics and Suns, including betting odds and a prediction.

Celtics vs. Suns Odds

Celtics Odds -1
Suns Odds +1
Over/Under 231.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Celtics have been anointed the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, and to this point it’s looking like the Suns are the class of the West. The two sides will meet in what’s sure to be an epic clash on Wednesday night and one which might be a preview of this summer’s NBA Finals.

You’ll surely be watching this one, so what’s the wisest way to bet it? Let’s figure that out below.

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Celtics Keep Finding Ways to Win

The Celtics look damn near unbeatable at the moment. With the odds stacked against them on Monday night, they still managed to win their 20th game of the year in 25 tries and cover the spread for a seventh time in eight games.

There was no Al Horford and no Malcolm Brogdon on the second night of a back-to-back. Boston had to travel to Toronto to face a tough Raptors team. The team trailed by six at the half. Yet in the end, as they’ve seemed to do all year, the Celtics found a way.

It speaks to the depth of this team that the Celtics were able to pull it off. The story was the same with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but in the frontcourt they received a huge lift from Blake Griffin and Luke Cornet. The former exhibited some excellent passing while the latter came in behind him to chip in 11 points and seven boards on 5-of-7 shooting in just 16 minutes.

The battle on the boards will be one to watch here. Boston ranks 20th in the NBA by grabbing 49.5% of available rebounds, while Phoenix is now up in fourth at 51.5%. With that said, the Celtics were able to out-rebound the Raptors on Monday and have been somewhat incredible in that area of late.

Dating back to a win over the Hawks on November 16th, the Celtics have had a rebounding rate north of 50% in seven of the last 11 games. In that time, they’re 11th in the league in rebounding.

Aside from that small nugget, you know the deal here. The Celtics excel at just about everything. They’re definitely very dependent upon the MVP frontrunner Tatum, however, without whom they have a -1.5 Net Rating and with whom they have a +12.1.

Using the on/off splits as proof, you can take just about any member of this team out of the lineup and Boston’s depth will kill you.

Suns Need To Shore Up Defense

It’s not too bad over in Phoenix, either. The Suns have the third-best record in the NBA and have won seven of their last nine games, performing admirably in the last 14 games without Chris Paul. They’ve covered in just five of their last nine, however, and now come in with two losses in their last three games after getting shellacked by Dallas.

Phoenix surely looks like the team in worse shape, but why? Well, for starters, the Suns aren’t really playing great defense at the moment. They’ve allowed 110.2 points per 100 possessions over the last six games, though without a dominating performance against the Spurs — one of the worst teams — this number would look worse. The Suns posted a 135.4 Defensive Rating in the loss to Dallas and a 122.0 against Houston in another losing effort days ago.

The culprit could be Deandre Ayton. He’s been middling when defending shots inside of six feet, allowing 64.6% shooting on contested looks which is just 0.1 better than the league average. Last season, that number was down at 58%.

In the last six games, which I’ve addressed as a poor spell of defending for Phoenix, this team is allowing 66.3% shooting inside of 10 feet on contested looks, which is the second-worst mark in the NBA.

So, while things may appear to be fine with an unalarming 110.2 Defensive Rating in the last six games, it really should be a lot worse.

Celtics-Suns Pick

The Suns have struggled on defense over the last six games more than it’s really shown, and I think the Boston Celtics are the perfect team to expose this. The frontcourt play has been improved of late and was even the prevailing reason that Boston is coming off a win here and not a loss. More than this, though, this is a fantastic spot for Tatum.

Tatum’s taking 41.9% of his shots inside of 10 feet, and he’s shooting a blistering 61.6% on those looks. Phoenix is struggling to defend inside and now has to deal with the reality that its rim protector is experiencing some regression on defense.

This is a game where the Celtics should bully the Suns down low and take the win.

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