Celtics vs. Pelicans Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Will Zion Get His First NBA Win?

Celtics vs. Pelicans Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Will Zion Get His First NBA Win? article feature image
Credit:

Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson (1) and Lonzo Ball (2) of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Celtics at Pelicans Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions

  • Spread: Celtics -1
  • Over/Under: 231.5
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN

Odds as of Sunday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


I hope you’re not already sick of national TV Zion Williamson, because the Pels are back today on ESPN against the Boston Celtics.

The big question marks in this matchup are the statuses of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Our analysts talk about those injuries and break down this matchup.

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Zion Williamson has scored 37 points in his first two games, but he needs to score only 1 point on Sunday vs. the Celtics for you to win $100 at BetMGM.

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Betting Trend to Know

The Celtics are short favorites in this matchup, but become profitable trend bets if they ultimately close as dogs. In the Brad Stevens era, Boston is 130-107-3 (55%) against the spread (ATS) as an underdog. As road dogs, the C’s are 98-70-1 (58%) ATS. — John Ewing

Bryan Mears: My Thoughts on Today’s Game

Zion Williamson has been awesome so far for the Pelicans, and yet they’ve lost both of the games he’s played in.

I’m hesitant to even cite Zion stats just because the sample size is just 39 minutes so far. But if you were wondering, the Pels with him on the floor have been 21.3 points per 100 possessions better than without him. They’ve increased their offensive efficiency by 9.6 points/100 and have decreased their Defensive Rating by 11.7 points/100.

They’re taking more shots at the rim with him, which makes sense, and they’re way more efficient on those shots and from behind the arc given his gravity.

Still … it’s way too small of a sample size to take hard data from. All we can say at this point is that he’s pretty darn good and will absolutely help the Pels. The problem is he’s currently capped around 20 minutes.

But that’s a nice chunk of minutes to be dominating teams; they’ve posted an incredible +19.0 Net Rating in that chunk of time.

I would expect him to continue to help today, so let’s move on. I think the biggest question mark is whether Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are both questionable, will suit up. Neither did last game, although the Celtics were still able to get a nice win on the road in Orlando.

But those guys are clearly valuable: Boston has been 10.2 points per 100 possessions better with Tatum playing than without him. Both of those guys are important to the offense of course, but they’re also two awesome defenders — especially Tatum — and can give Brandon Ingram and Co. a tough time on the perimeter.

These teams just played a couple weeks ago, and the Celtics won by 35 at home as 11.5-point favorites. But the Pels were also without Zion (of course), JJ Redick, Jrue Holiday and Derrick Favors. All of those guys are projected to be back in the lineup today.

Even with them back, however, I think Boston is just the far superior team if Tatum and Brown are available. That starting lineup has blitzed opponents this year, outpacing them by 17.6 points/100. That’s essentially the numbers with Zion — except it’s over a much larger sample size of 308 possessions.

Further, this is the exact spot to target them in the market. Boston has the third-best Net Rating in the league on the road this year, thanks mostly to its second-ranked defense, which has been legitimately awesome.

In Brad Stevens’ NBA tenure, the Celtics are 149-112-4 ATS (11.4% ROI) on the road vs. 134-129-6 (-0.8% ROI) at home. This line will likely fluctuate throughout the day, but as either road dogs or a road team getting two points or fewer, the Celtics are 111-67-2 (21.8% ROI) under Stevens.

The Celtics are the public team so far today, getting 78% of the bets and 87% of the money, so maybe this line balloons to where they’re no longer a value. But at a pick’em or -1, if they’re at full strength, I think they get the win. Bryan Mears

Matt Moore: How I’m Betting Celtics-Pels

The most perplexing thing about the Celtics this year is how they’ve managed to be so good at interior defense without a top-line rim protector. Daniel Theis and Grant Williams have done a phenomenal job, along with Marcus Smart, of containing the paint. The numbers predictably spike whenever Enes Kanter is on the floor, but they can survive that.

Boston, somehow, gives up the third-fewest points in the paint, the fourth-fewest points by opposing forwards and the third-fewest points by opposing centers per 100 possessions.

Now, Zion Williamson is not a normal forward/center. He has so much raw physicality that he may be able to overwhelm the Celtics, but the more natural assumption is that his wild on/off numbers (+22.4 in Net Rating with him on-court) go down in this game.

In related news, the Pelicans give up the most points per 100 possessions of any team in the league to guards, and that trend holds over the last 10 games after a small blip in their defensive improvement. They’re giving up 74 points per game to guards alone.

Now, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both missed the last game and are questionable here. But even if they can’t go, Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward on the wing should absolutely slice and dice.

You should definitely wait until tip to see the availability on those two. If either one plays, the Celtics line probably moves slightly but not enough to alter their value.

THE PLAY: Celtics -1 all the way to Celtics -2.5


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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