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Celtics vs. Nets Odds, Game 2 Preview, Prediction: Can Brooklyn’s Big 3 Avoid Slow Start? (May 25)

Celtics vs. Nets Odds, Game 2 Preview, Prediction: Can Brooklyn’s Big 3 Avoid Slow Start? (May 25) article feature image

Steven Ryan/Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden.

Celtics vs. Nets Odds

Celtics Odds +9.5
Nets Odds -9.5
Moneyline +370 / -480
Over/Under 227
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday evening and via FanDuel.

The Nets host the Celtics Tuesday night after beating the Celtics 104-93 on Saturday in Game 1. The Nets got off to a slow start before coming back for the 11-point win.

Kevin Durant led the Nets with 32 points and 12 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving added 29 points and James Harden has 21. The Celtics’ offense struggled as Jayson Tatum scored 22 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the field, and Kemba Walker had an inefficient 15 points on 16 shots. Can Tatum and Walker step up and carry the Celtics to a Game 2 upset?

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Tatum and Walker Must Be More Efficient for Celtics

If the Celtics want to win this series, they will need Tatum and Walker to score more efficiently on high volume as they remain without All-Star Jaylen Brown due to a wrist injury for the rest of the season. The Celtics’ bench took a big blow after losing Gordon Hayward last season, and they simply don’t have the depth to withstand inefficient performances from Tatum and Walker to remain competitive with the Nets’ explosive offense.

The Celtics need Tatum and Walker to get downhill and attack the paint in order to score and set up open shots for their secondary scorers. The Celtics need to do a better job of avoiding stagnant isolation on offense and put more pressure on the Nets’ defense with ball movement than they did in Game 1. While isolation can work in the playoffs, it is not a winning strategy against the Nets who have three of the best isolation players in the NBA.

Also, in there, an illustration of why the Nets become even scarier if the playoffs become an iso-ball contest.

— Anchorage Man (@SethPartnow) May 23, 2021

Seth Partnow wrote a great article over the weekend illustrating why the Celtics need to avoid isolation sets, as the Nets have three of the top six or seven players in the league who score with above-average efficiency and on high volume in self-created offense.

The Celtics also need key role players like Evan Fournier and Robert Williams III to step up. Fournier went 3-of-10 on Saturday, but he only took four 3s. He will need to have a bigger impact from beyond the arc for the Celtics to keep up with the Nets.

Timelord had a monster performance as he nearly had a triple-double with 11 points, nine blocks and nine rebounds. He is bigger than Nets bigs like Jeff Green, Blake Griffin and Nicolas Claxton, and he must continue making an impact as a vertical spacer, rim protector and rebounder. He should have plenty of opportunities to to take advantage of smaller defenders as the Celtics heavily targeted Griffin on Saturday.

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Nets Need Less Isolation Basketball

The Nets  need their big three to get off to a stronger start than they did on Monday while playing less isolation ball. Durant, Irving and Harden combined to make just 11 of 32 shots in the first half, but their defense stepped up and kept them in the game long enough for them to find their footing offensively in the second half.

While they have the better isolation scorers, the Nets need to do a better job of moving the basketball instead of settling for jumpers. According to Second Spectrum tracking, the Nets passed the ball only 240 total times in Game 1, which tied their third-lowest mark of the season. The Nets averaged 10.9 isolation possessions in the regular season, but they had a whopping 40 isolation possessions on Saturday.

Durant, Irving and Harden combined to make just five of 24 3s (20.8%), while the Nets made just 23.5% of their 3s as a team. If they can put more pressure on the Celtics with better ball movement, their three elite scorers should have much more efficient shooting performances on Tuesday.

Sharpshooting Joe Harris, whose 48% accuracy on 3s this season ranked in the 99th percentile among wings (per Cleaning The Glass), will also benefit from better ball movement to get him better looks on open 3s and cuts to the basket. He scored only 10 points on 11 shots on Saturday.

Role players such as Landry Shamet, Bruce Brown and Nets bigs like Griffin, Claxton, and Jeff Green — who combined to score just 12 points in the first game of the series — will benefit greatly from better ball movement. While they aren’t efficient scorers when creating for themselves, they should have open looks from beyond the arc or at the rim more frequently on Tuesday.

Celtics-Nets Pick

While the Celtics’ offense should have a better performance on Tuesday, so will the Nets’ offense. Expect both offenses to be less stagnant, but the Nets simply have much more firepower and should overwhelm the shorthanded Celtics, who are missing a high-quality defender and scorer due to Brown’s absence.

The Nets’ offense will be better, but their defense should also play better as they will play Green and Claxton at the five more frequently than Griffin (as they did in the second half of game one where the Celtics scored just 41 points). While I lean toward the over at 227, I like the value better on the Nets at -9.5 (with value down to -11) on FanDuel as they simply are the better team, and the Celtics won’t have the scoring depth to keep up if at least two of the Nets’ big three play well.

I also like the value of the Nets at -9.5 and over 227 in a parlay at +266. Expect the Nets to pick up from where they left off in the second half of Game 1 as they overwhelm the Celtics and win by double-digits.

Pick: Nets -9.5 (bet down to -11)

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