Nets vs. Celtics Odds
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The NBA takes center stage Sunday afternoon when the Boston Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets in an Eastern Conference showdown with major playoff implications. Despite the pedigree of both of rosters, these are teams are headed in completely different directions.
The Nets opened the season as favorites to win the NBA title, with many assuming the Big 3 consisting of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden were unbeatable. Unfortunately for the Nets, the trio played just 16 games together before Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond.
Between injuries to Durant and the absence of Irving, the Nets sit at 32-32 overall and eighth in the Eastern Conference in position to need to win in the play-in tournament to make the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 15 out of their last 18 games, and well on track to be a contender in the East with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Nonetheless, oddsmakers have installed the red-hot Celtics as 4.5-point home favorites with a total of 224.5 points.
Can Durant, Irving and the Nets slow down the Celtics as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive or will the Tatum and the hosts continue to move their way up the standings?
Let’s analyze both sides and find out.
The Nets haven’t had a full roster the entire season, so it’s tough to know exactly who and what this team is. Irving is still ineligible to play home games, which means we have to completely different sets of power ratings for them when playing on the road and at home.
The Nets made a slew of roster moves, trading Harden for Simmons, Drummond and Curry. Simmons has yet to play for the Nets as he deals with a back injury, while Curry has provided some additional shooting in the absence of Joe Harris. Drummond has given Brooklyn a presence inside which it has been lacking this season.
The Nets also picked up Goran Dragic for additional ball handling. Still, this team has continued to plummet down the Eastern Conference standings.
The good news is Durant has returned from his MCL injury after missing more than a month. Durant was averaging 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists before his injury and there was a notable drop-off in this lineup not having his presence around it.
During that span, the Nets went 5-16 straight up and had an Offensive Rating of 110.5, which was 19th among NBA teams. Durant’s presence was missing on defense, as well Brooklyn allowed 118.3 points per 100 possessions that was good enough for only 29th in the league.
Durant’s return should stabilize this team as they look to make their postseason push. He hasn’t skipped a beat in his return, scoring 31 points on 10-of-21 (47.6%) shooting in Thursday’s 113-107 loss to the Miami Heat.
The Nets should also be excited to pair Durant and Irving, as lineups with those two (excluding Harden) are outscoring teams by 10.9 points per 100 possessions this season.
The Nets will be facing a tough Celtics defense, but we saw them put up 123 points on 1.27 points per possession in a game back in November with Durant in the lineup, so I’m expecting more of that performance as opposed the the most recent Celtics vs. Nets matchup without Durant in February.
Curry has been dealing with an ankle injury, but is probable for this matchup so outside of Simmons, Brooklyn has a clean injury report.
Although there’s a lot to be optimistic about on offense, the defense is still 29th over the last two weeks, allowing 123.7 points per 100 possessions so the the Nets will live and die by how well they can score.
After a slow start to the season, the Celtics have been on fire, winning 15 out of their last 18 games. The biggest reason for that run has been their defense, which is first among NBA teams, allowing just 106.3 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes per Cleaning The Glass.
There has been some slippage on the defensive end of the floor over the past two weeks. However, despite that, this is still a top-10 unit.
Boston struggled with Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in the first half of last Tuesday’s matchup, allowing 65 first-half points. The team now faces a tougher test against Durant and Irving, so it will need to be able to keep up offensively because it’s tough to imagine even a defense as good as the Celtics slowing this team down.
The Celtics are just 24th in 3-point shooting percentage (34.5%) despite shooting the 11th-highest frequency (38.5%). They typically don’t score much in transition, either.
Fortunately, Boston has stepped it up recently as they’re scoring 120.3 points per 100 possessions over the last two weeks. That’s fourth best in the league. A big part of that is Tatum, who is averaging 26 points, 4.2 assists and 8.3 rebounds and coming on strong during this Celtics’ run.
Brown has been big this year as well averaging 23.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists. However, he recently suffered a right ankle injury which caused him to miss Thursday’s game against the Grizzlies, so expect more Grant Williams and Derrick White who they traded for at the deadline.
White’s versatility offensively and defensively has been big for Boston and essentially replacing Dennis Schroeder for him has improved this team. Overall, we’re looking at a Celtics side that’s one of the best in the East and after a rough start to the season, this team is poised to make a deep run.
This is a game in which you have to completely throw out the numbers as none of them are relevant based on the change we’ve seen these teams undergo.
My full season numbers don’t capture the true strength of the Nets as Durant missed the last 19 games and Irving doesn’t play home games. Nevertheless, this is a game where we simply have to handicap the matchup and spot.
Both of teams come into this game well rested, so there’s no situational spot to exploit. What stands out is the impact of Durant and Irving, as lineups with the duo are outscoring teams by 10.9 points per 100 possessions.
It’s tough to imagine that the Nets would be catching +4.5 points with this duo at any other time than now in a spot where they have had limited minutes together and playing a sizzling Celtics team.
For that reason alone, I think there’s value on Brooklyn and I’ll back the team at +4.5 points. The Nets should have a chance to win this game outright, so you can sprinkle something on the ML as well.
Pick: Brooklyn +4.5 (-110)