NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Celtics vs. Nets, Warriors vs. Trail Blazers (Feb. 24)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Klay Thompson #11 high fives Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.
- The NBA is finally back after the All-Star break on Thursday night.
- Raheem Palmer, Brandon Anderson and Kenny Ducey break down their three best bets on tonight's two TNT matchups.
- Find their analysis and picks below.
The NBA returns after the All-Star break with seven games on Thursday night. Action Network NBA analysts Kenny Ducey, Brandon Anderson and Raheem Palmer each have a best bet on one of the marquee matchups on TNT. Continue reading for their analysis and bets bets.
NBA Odds & Picks
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
Kenny Ducey: The Boston Celtics are now fully healthy and fully-functional, which is bad news for the rest of the NBA. If the break led you to forget, I can help jog your memory.
In the two weeks leading up to All-Star Weekend, Boston had the league’s best defense with just 95.8 points allowed per 100 possessions, leading the next-best team (Miami) by nearly seven whole points.
On the other hand, Brooklyn ranked 26th in Offensive Efficiency during that time with its best players out, and the Nets’ “Big Two-and-a-half” will be absent yet again with Kevin Durant still healing from injury, Kyrie Irving ineligible to play, and Ben Simmons still working toward a return to the court.
Boston’s interior defense has improved drastically since starting off the season with one of the worst restricted area field goal percentages. That is unfortunate for Brooklyn considering much of its offense has come from driving inside and getting the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge in the post. This one should be rather academic. I’d lay up to nine points.
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
Brandon Anderson: The Boston Celtics entered the All-Star Break as one of the league’s hottest teams. They’ll have a nice chance to come out of the break just as hot against a Nets team still missing all of its biggest names.
The biggest reason for Boston’s awesome play of late has been its defense. And if you’ve been watching the Celtics lately, you know there are two key reasons for that improvement. The deadline additions of Derrick White and Daniel Theis in place of Dennis Schroder and Enes Freedom were huge swings, but Boston’s defense was already tops in the league the month prior to that.
That’s because first-year coach Ime Udoka made a big change, shifting Robert Williams out of the paint and sliding him out to the perimeter, effectively guarding forwards instead of centers. That’s left Al Horford as the de facto center, an elite switcher that gums up opposing offenses, and it means Williams can wreck off-ball as a shot blocker and help defender. It’s why I’ve been backing Timelord at +5000 as a DPOY sleeper.
But there’s another more immediate way we can play this shift. With Williams further away from the basket and Horford playing more “center,” that’s also shifting the rebounding totals in Boston. Timelord’s rebounding has shifted toward the offensive end, and Horford’s defensive rebounding numbers are way up, at 7.1 DRPG over the last 10 versus 5.7 per game the rest of the season.
That jump in defensive rebounding has put Horford at 8.6 RPG over the last 10 games. He’s over this line in seven of those 10 (70%) with at least nine boards in six of those games. And really, this line is low for the season anyway, with Horford going over 6.5 boards in 67% of his games on the year.
I think this line should be 7.5 and probably will be soon. I’ll play the traditional over and then play an equal amount on the alternate over, since Horford grabbing eight-plus boards plays at +155 for one only one additional board.
You can play for double-digit rebounds at +425 if you want to take this one step further, and he’s done that in four of these last 10. I’m concerned Boston could take care of business quickly and limit minutes here, so I’ll stick with the over 6.5 and 7.5 plays.
Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Raheem Palmer: The Golden State Warriors have the league’s top ranked Defensive Rating this season, allowing just 105.8 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage-time minutes.
However, they hit a wall right before the All-Star Break, losing four of their last five games while giving up a whopping 118.7 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks — 23rd among NBA teams. It’s tough to believe that this is indicative of who they truly are as opposed to a bump in the road of a long season.
Even without Draymond Green, the Warriors have remained solid defensively. In the 11 games they played in January without Green, the Warriors were second in Defensive Rating (105), and in the 19 games they’ve played without him in total, they’ve been eighth in Defensive Rating (109.9). Nonetheless, I think we can chalk the last two weeks up to an anomaly more than anything.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been surging offensively, however they recently lost Jusuf Nurkić for four weeks with a foot injury, and they’ll be without Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson, and Joe Ingles. Despite the emergence of Anfernee Simons, the cupboard is bare for a team which is already missing Damian Lillard and traded Cj McCollum and Norman Powell.
Nonetheless, I think the Warriors can slow this team down and return to their previous form defensively, Neither of these teams plays particularly fast, with the Warriors ranking 15th in Pace (98.5) and 12th in Offensive Length of Possession (14.5) while the Blazers rank 17th in Pace (98.1) and 16th in Offensive Length of Possession (14.6).
My model makes this game 216.5, so at 224.5 I think there’s some value on the under. This also feels like a prime bounce back spot for the Warriors, so if you’re inclined, you can lay the 9.5, however the stronger position is on the under.