Celtics vs. Nuggets Odds, Pick, Prediction: Boston Has Stylistic Advantages (January 1)

Celtics vs. Nuggets Odds, Pick, Prediction: Boston Has Stylistic Advantages (January 1) article feature image

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images. Pictured: Al Horford and Jayson Tatum

  • The Boston Celtics travel to Denver to face the Nuggets in a New Year's Day clash.
  • These are two of the top teams in the league, but Boston is a short road favorite and has found success against Denver in the recent past.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Celtics vs. Nuggets Odds

Celtics Odds-1
Nuggets Odds+1
Time8 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The NBA’s two best offenses clash on New Year’s Day in what could be potential NBA Finals preview as the Boston Celtics travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets.

The Celtics have the best record in the league (26-10) and won earlier this season in Boston, but the Nuggets played great basketball in December and are right behind the Celtics in a four-way tie for second-best record in the league (23-12).

Can the defending Eastern Conference champs beat the reigning back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokic? Let’s get to the analysis.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics seem to have righted the ship after a rough patch coming after a lengthy road trip beginning in early December.

After winning and covering against a healthy Suns team on Dec. 5, the Celtics went on a skid, starting with a national TV beatdown by the Golden State Warriors.

Boston then proceeded to lose four of their next five games, failing to cover in any of them.

However, since then, the Celtics have enjoyed a four-game winning streak in which they covered in every game except their most recent against the Clippers. It seems a recovery is taking effect and Boston is getting back to its old self, aided in part by the return of defensive stalwart Robert Williams III, who rejoined Boston on Dec. 16.

The Celtics will play a Nuggets team that they’ve had success against in the past, mainly because of stylistic matchups.

The Celtics do a good job of containing shots at the rim, and that’s where Jokic goes to work. The Nuggets take the fifth-most shots at the rim (38.2%) and make the third-highest percentage in the league around the basket (70.2%) according to Cleaning the Glass.

Boston is second in the league at preventing shots from that area (28.4%) and when opponents do get shots off, they have the eighth-worst field goal percentage (64.6%).

Boston’s defense creates a difficult matchup for the Nuggets and that’s shown historically. In their last seven meetings, the Celtics are just 6-1 both straight up and against the spread.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have had themselves a successful second half of December to close out 2022.

In their last six games, the Nuggets are 5-1 both straight-up and against the spread, with all games coming against teams with winning records.

Denver managed a win and cover against the Miami Heat on Friday despite losing the battle in some key statistical categories.

When looking at team success, the Four Factors are helpful indicators: Effective Field Goal Percentage, Turnover Percentage, Offensive Rebounding Percentage and Free Throw Rate.

Despite the positive result, the Nuggets lost in all Four Factors categories except eFG% (the most important one) thanks to the elite offense created by Jokic.

This season, the Nuggets rank second in Adjusted Offensive Rating (116.4), behind only the Celtics (118), but rank just 11th in Adjusted Net Rating (+1.5) due to their atrocious defense (114.9) which is 24th in the league.

The Nuggets are especially ill-equipped to deal with this elite Celtics offense that bombards teams from beyond the arc. Boston shoots the third-most threes (44.2%) and makes them at the eighth-best clip (37.9%).

Denver also struggles defending in transition, which is another area the Celtics thrive. Boston doesn’t create many transition opportunities, but when the Celtics do get the chance, they capitalize. They rank 10th in the league in Transition Efficiency, scoring 128.7 Points Per Play.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets who don’t allow opponents many transition opportunities, are the worst team in the league at giving up efficient transition buckets (138.1).

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Celtics-Nuggets Pick

Despite both teams playing well, I think the edge is with Boston here based on the two teams' style of play and recent results. In their last three contests dating back to last season, the Celtics have won all three matchups, winning the last two by an average margin of 19.5 points.

Denver has also been playing a lot lately and we could see some fatigue set in. Tonight's matchup will be the Nuggets' fifth game since their overtime win on Christmas Day.

In that time, Jokic and Jamal Murray have averaged 37.5 and 38.2 minutes per game, respectively. Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have played just 35.3 and 35 minutes per game in their four games since Christmas. Murray is also questionable given that this is the first game of a back-to-back for Denver. If he sits, this line will likely move.

Take the Celtics down to -1.5

Pick: Celtics -1.5 or Better

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