Celtics-Pelicans Betting Guide: Will Boston’s Road Struggles Continue?

Celtics-Pelicans Betting Guide: Will Boston’s Road Struggles Continue? article feature image

Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jayson Tatum

Betting odds: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

  • Spread: Pelicans -2
  • Over/Under: 227.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

>> All odds as of 4 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

Both the Celtics and Pelicans have disappointed a bit this season despite high expectations, and they currently both sit at a mediocre 10-10. Can Kyrie Irving take care of business on the road or will we see a vintage Anthony Davis game? Our analysts dive in.

Moore: What I’m Watching For Tonight

The Celtics are currently giving their fans a nervous breakdown, mostly because there is no diagnosable issue. The offense is terrible, but in a lot of really weird ways. They have the third-highest 3-point rate in the league. That’s great, right? Modern offense!

Except that’s all they take. They are bottom five in shots at the rim and in the paint. They are pretty much a college offense without the awkward chucking inside and with way better style. It’s a collective failure.

To make matters worse, their defense is great… except they’re giving up huge scoring nights to guys like Jamal Murray and Kemba Walker, which lead to outputs their miserable offense can’t match.

So Monday we have the very movable object in the Pelicans defense vs. the Celtics’ completely resistible force on offense.

With Davis probable, the Celtics have to perform at a level that reaches the 116 Offensive Rating level they average with Davis on the floor — or completely overwhelm the 104 mark the Pelicans manage when Brow is on the bench.

Both present what appear, on the surface, to be insurmountable issues. Their starting lineup — their best five guys, supposedly — average 90.5 points per 100 possessions.

Don’t be shocked if Jrue Holiday or E’Twaun Moore go off, as so many guards have vs. Boston. New Orleans will push the pace and try to force Boston to keep up with them. That’s not what Boston wants, and that tug of war will decide much in this game.

Boston’s better on paper, but losing games in which they’re better on paper defines the Celtics this year. They make everything harder than it needs to be. — Matt Moore

Mears: What’s Going On with the Pelicans Defense?

These teams are essentially polar opposites of far this season. The Pelicans have an elite offense but can’t defend; the Celtics boast an elite defense but can’t score…

  • Pelicans: 114.3 Offensive Rating (4th), 112.0 Defensive Rating (24th)
  • Celtics: 106.2 Offensive Rating (27th), 104.0 Defensive Rating (3rd)

The combination means they’re both at a +2.2 point differential — tied for the 10th-best mark in the league.

Matt discussed the Celtics offense a bit above, so I’ll touch on the Pelicans defense.

First, it’s notable that the theme of drastic splits continues with their five-man units. The most-used lineup of the year — a combination of Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Wes Johnson, Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis — has allowed a putrid 111.1 points/100. The second-most used one — Elfrid Payton in for Johnson — has allowed just 99.3/100.

Take the most-used one and substitute Julius Randle in for Mirotic, and it goes from terrible to nearly league-worst, allowing 119.4/100. But again, take out Wes Johnson and replace him with Darius Miller, and the lineup with Randle and Brow allow just 94.7/100.

So perhaps the problem is Johnson, although there are some bigger questions about the scheme. Again, drastic splits: The Pels force the second-most “very tightly” contested shots in the league. That’s great. But they also allow the second-most “wide-open” shots.

They have the athletes to defend, but you just can’t allow that many wide-open shots and hope to survive. It’s, thus, no surprise that they’re defending inside the arc much better than the 3-point line, where opponents are making 37.2% of their shots — the fifth-highest mark in the league.

These teams — and even specific offensive and defensive units — have very drastic, Jekyll-and-Hyde characteristics. I’m staying away from the line for that very reason. — Bryan Mears

Betting Trends to Know

The Celtics lost 113-104 to the Mavericks on Saturday, dropping Boston’s record to 10-10. This will be just the 14th time in the past three seasons that the C’s have played a game with a .500-or-worse record. In the previous 13 games, the team went 10-3 ATS. — John Ewing

As John noted, the Celtics are only 10-10 through 20 games, and this is uncharted territory for this young team.

The Celtics have played only one game since the start of the 2015-16 season when they were .500 or worse at least 20 games into the season: January 13, 2016 vs. the Pacers. Celtics closed at -3.5 and won 103-94.

Anthony Davis has missed four games already this season for the Pelicans, and in those games, New Orleans is 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS. With Davis this season, the Pelicans are 10-6 SU and an even 8-8 ATS.

Just how valuable has Davis been this season?

With Davis on the court, the Pelicans’ Net Rating (or point differential per 100 possessions) is +8.4, or the equivalent of the second-best differential in the NBA behind just the Bucks (+11.2).

With Davis off the floor, the Pelicans’ Net Rating is -9.9, or the worst differential in the NBA behind the Hawks and Bulls.

Between 2014 and 2017, starting quick on the road was part of what made Brad Stevens and the Celtics so deadly. During that span, Boston was 90-71-1 (55.9%), against the first-half spread on the road, profiting bettors 15.1 units, making the Celtics the most-profitable road team in that span.

In 2018, on the other hand, the Celtics are 5-7 against the first-half spread on the road, failing to cover the spread by 2.3 PPG. They’re specifically 1-5 against Western Conference teams, failing to cover the first-half spread by 10.4 PPG. — Evan Abrams

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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