Celtics vs. Nuggets Odds, Pick & Preview: Back Boston to Cover in Denver (March 20)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Boston Celtics standout Jayson Tatum.
- The Denver Nuggets host the Boston Celtics in Sunday's NBA showdown.
- The Celtics are -2.5 favorites despite playing this game away from home.
- Jacob McKenna breaks down the game below and details why he's backing Boston to cover the spread.
Celtics vs. Nuggets Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Boston Celtics will continue their four game road trip on Sunday when they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets.
Boston’s late-season surge has done wonders for its playoff hopes, as the franchise now sits in fourth in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 43-28 record. Denver enters this game in a similar spot, sitting in sixth in the West with a 42-29 overall mark.
The Nuggets have been somewhat inconsistent against the Eastern Conference as of late, beating the 76ers, but losing to other to teams like Cleveland and Toronto.
So, will they be able to reverse that trend against another top dog in the East or will the Celtics steal a win on the road and continue their push?
The beginning of the 2021-22 season saw the Celtics hovering around the .500 mark, but since then they have flipped the script entirely and slowly risen to the top of the East.
Their ascension is in large part due to stellar defense, which has been on display for most of the year, but has turned a corner over the last month or so.
Coming into this matchup, Boston has posted a Defensive Rating of 105.4, according to NBA Advanced Stats, which is just barely ahead of Phoenix for the No. 1 spot in the NBA. That number has risen slightly to 108.2 post All-Star break, but in that span of time that ranks second overall, so Boston is still at the top of its game.
Furthermore, in the 11 games since the break, Boston has only allowed its opponents to shoot 43.9% from the floor overall and 32% from behind the arc, which are two areas that are inside the top two in the league.
The offense hasn’t always clicked this season, but its clear that the Celtics can compete with anyone in the league as long as the defense continues to play at this high of a level.
The Nuggets are 6-4 in their last 10 games, but in their last four contests they have posted a record of 2-2 and as previously mentioned all of those contests have come against Eastern Conference opponents.
However, despite its average record during that span, Denver has still been able to put up great offensive numbers.
In those four games, the Nuggets have posted an Offensive Rating of 118, which ranks 10th overall and is a rather significant increase from their season rating of 112.8. That has obviously all been done without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. on the floor, so this team still has some great talent that can produce on that end of the floor when some of their cornerstones are absent.
The trouble has sat with its defense, which can certainly see some improvements down the stretch.
Denver’s Defensive Rating has climbed to 116 in its last four games, up six ticks from its season rating of 110. The Nuggets allowed their opponents to shoot nearly 46% from the floor in that span, and it’s likely they will need to patch up some holes if they want to gain a higher postseason seed.
Both teams enter this matchup relatively healthy, but given some recent trends I think Boston can piece together a win and a cover on the road.
Playing away from home hasn’t been much of an issue for the Celtics this season. In 35 road games, Boston has a total of 19 wins, has posted an Offensive Rating of 112.2, and has a Defensive Rating of 105.3. Those numbers rank within the top eight in the NBA, once again proving this team is as well-rounded as they come.
They’ve proven to be a force on both ends of the floor, and I think they can slow down the Denver offense and take advantage of some of their flaws.
Pick: Boston -2.5 (-110)