Celtics vs. Nets Odds, Preview, Prediction: Boston Should Roll After All-Star Break (February 24)
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaylen Brown #7 and Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.
Celtics vs. Nets Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
Both the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets are looking to finish the season strong and climb up the Eastern Conference Standings.
Will the Celtics have cooled off a bit due to the All-Star break? Can the Nets compete without any of their biggest stars at home? Let’s break down this primetime matchup out of the break.
Celtics Defense Remains Elite
The Celtics have been impossibly hot and have won nine of their last 10 games heading into the break. Prior to the break, the Celtics were without Robert Williams (calf) and Marcus Smart (ankle), but they are expected to return for this matchup. Both players should slot into the starting lineup and this pushes Derrick White to the bench.
The acquisition of White was great for this Celtics team that needed a point guard but did not want to sacrifice on defense. White fills that role and he can take a back seat as a scoring threat with both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on this team.
White’s On/Off stats are a bit skewed because of the destruction that this Celtics team laid on the 76ers, but he is a whopping +26.8 points per 100 possessions and has had positive contributions on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Considering the scope of his career, this is not much of a surprise, and I’d expect the Celtics to see his benefit all over the court considering he was a +4.7, +7.7, and +4.1 the last three seasons in San Antonio.
The Celtics have struggled at times offensively, but they have absolutely stifled teams on defense. Now that this team is healthy, they can fully utilize their talents and frustrate their opponents with the second-best Adjusted Defensive Rating in the league (105.5).
Boston has the best halfcourt defense in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. They allow just 88.9 points per play and due to their elite rebounding, their opponents don’t have many putback opportunities, but even on the ones they do have the Celtics allow the third-fewest points per miss (17.4).
The way to attack Boston is in transition, but even then, the Celtics are about league average at defending those transition opportunities. They’re fundamentally sound and seem to be meshing at the right time.
Replacement Nets Struggling to Stay Afloat
The Nets just received a bit of good news (from a basketball perspective) with New York City Mayor Eric Adams indicating that the vaccine mandate will be phased out.
New York City has a plan to phase out the vaccine mandate in the coming weeks, Mayor Eric Adams says, at which point Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving would be cleared for home games.
Spokesperson adds that current rules remain in place.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 23, 2022
While this is great for, Kyrie Irving and the Nets’ continuity, he is still ineligible to play tonight against the Celtics and this will leave them severely shorthanded.
At the time of this writing, the newly acquired Goran Dragic will not be available and the Nets will continue to be without Kevin Durant (knee) and Ben Simmons as he prepares himself to play in the NBA again. The Nets have not been very transparent about Durant’s injury or return, so while there’s always the possibility that he could return for this game, it’s unlikely.
The problem for the Nets has been continuity. The Nets have played 950 possessions without any of Harden, Irving, and Durant on the floor.
They’re bad without them.
The Nets have a -8.8 point differential across those possessions and they’ve scored just 104.9 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. They’ve received a bit of a boost from the acquisitions of Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, but that does not make them a good team without one of their superstars.
Over the last two weeks of games, the Nets have not had much success. They are just 2-6 with a -9.6 point differential and they struggled to get into any type of rhythm. While they went 2-1 with Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, their victories were against the Kings and the Knicks. This team is not whole and it shows.
The Nets are extremely dependent on Durant which makes sense considering he was the MVP frontrunner prior to his injury. The issue is they are now without options two (Irving) and three (Simmons). The Nets’ offense just cannot outpace the points their defense was inevitably giving up.
Now, they come out of the Break against a Celtics team that was scorching hot and plays lock-down defense. I fully anticipate the Nets to struggle in this matchup and even though Boston has had difficulties on offense, a date with a porous Nets’ defense may be just what they need to kick start a run after the Break.
This line is on the move, as the Celtics have already been hammered to -6.5 from an open at -2. As a result, the best way to back Boston is their team total as I expect them to put up points against this Nets team that truly lacks wing defenders.
Pick: Celtics Team Total over 110.5
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