Game: Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Celtics -5, Nets +5
Tonight’s game at the Barclays Center features two teams heading in different directions. Boston has won five straight to move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Brooklyn has lost eight in a row and is one spot ahead of Boston in the East. The Nets are struggling big time as they try and navigate through a rash of injuries that now have Kevin Durant (knee) and James Harden (hamstring) both on the bench.
The Nets are a rare 5-point home underdog, but that’s because they will have to battle the red-hot Celtics without Durant, Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Remember, Irving cannot play in home games because of the coronavirus vaccine mandate. That means Brooklyn will play tonight with zero stars. Plus, they will be without LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Claxton is questionable.
Boston enters tonight’s game coming off a 116-83 win over Orlando on Sunday. Six Celtics scored in double figures led by Jaylen Brown who had 26 in just 29 minutes of playing time. While the scoring on Sunday was impressive, it has been defense that has led Boston to seven wins in its last eight games. Over that eight-game stretch, Boston has allowed a ridiculous 92.8 points per game. They held three of those eight opponents to less than 90 points.
Brooklyn is a top 10 offense – 111.3 points per game which is 10th – but will be without 75 points per game from Durant (29.3), Irving (23.2), and Harden (22.5). In their last game on Sunday, the Nets lost to Denver and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic 124-104. If not for Irving and his 27 points, it would have been much worse. How the Nets will attack the Celtics defense tonight is anybody’s guess.
The Celtics have been shutting opponents down with a defense that contests shots. Boston ranks eighth in opponent three-point field goal percentage (34.1) and second in overall opponent field goal percentage (43.3). Limiting opponents scoring chances is why Boston ranks fourth overall in points allowed per game (104.0).
Brooklyn has actually owned the series with the Celtics over the past few seasons. The Nets have won eight of the last ten against Boston and they have won the last nine straight against the Celtics when they have played at home. Speaking of playing at home, the Nets are just 1-9 ATS in their last ten home games. In the current eight-game losing streak, the Nets are just 1-7 ATS. The only cover was when they found a way to upset Golden State as a 10.5-point underdog on Jan. 29.
Boston is 5-3 ATS in its last eight games. With their outstanding defensive play, the Under has been the trend. The total has gone Under in seven of Boston’s last eight games. The total has also gone Under in three of the Nets’ last five games. In the series, the total has gone Over in four of the last five meetings.