NBA Betting Odds, Prediction & Pick for Celtics vs. Nets: Boston Will Keep Rolling (April 23)
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum.
- The Nets are favored over the Celtics in Friday night NBA action (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
- Brooklyn could get Kevin Durant back, which is why it opened as a significant favorite, but Kenny Ducey thinks Boston's defense can limit the Nets either way.
- Get his full Celtics vs. Nets preview and betting prediction below.
NBA Odds: Celtics vs. Nets
|Moneyline||+184 / -220|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
Fresh off a big home win on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns, the Boston Celtics will travel south to Brooklyn for a Friday night meeting with the Nets.
Brooklyn’s injury report still reads like a laundry list, but there’s a chance it’ll get at least one of its stars back healthy, while the Celtics are dealing with some injuries of their own and will be fatigued having battled one of the league’s best defenses mere hours earlier.
So, is there any value in fading the Nets in Brooklyn, where they’ve struggled to cover, or will fresh legs prevail? Let’s see if we can find the answer.
In a game many thought could be a blowout the other way, the Celtics taught the Suns a lesson in defense on Thursday, limiting a high-powered offense to just 86 points.
To do it against Phoenix, which had just broken through the vaunted Sixers defense to post a 127.5 offensive rating the game prior, was pretty special. To do it without one of their stars in Jaylen Brown was even more special.
Entering Friday, we don’t know what the Celtics’ injury report looks like yet, but we do know that this team has been extra-cautious with its best players on both sides of back-to-backs. It’s possible Brown’s shoulder bursitis could keep him out of this game, but I’d argue that it’s just as possible that he does play. Our Action Labs injury tracker would seem to agree with me, giving him about a 50% chance to play.
Obviously, the status of Brown will be vital given that you need just about as many scorers you can get against the stacked Nets, but let’s assume he’s playing for the sake of this story. It would be fair to expect a dip in defensive production, considering the team’s been two points better per 100 possessions with him off the floor this season, but what he lacks in defense he will make up with on the offensive side of the ball. Offensively, he adds 3.4 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor, according to NBA.com.
Defense was what won the Celtics their game on Thursday, and that type of performance could win them a game against a team that relies too heavily on its offense in Brooklyn. The Celtics allowed just 17.1% shooting from 3, which was insane, and on top of that, they out-rebounded the Suns, 48-38.
The Nets have been cruising along lately with just Kyrie Irving in the lineup, but that could all change on Thursday. James Harden is still doubtful with his hamstring injury, but Kevin Durant is nearing a return from the thigh contusion that’s kept him out the last two games, getting slapped with a questionable tag.
Even with Durant, this team has plenty of issues it needs to address either this month or over the offseason.
Defense has been a big problem for the Nets, who rank all the way down in 20th in efficiency over the past 10 games, and just as big a problem has been rebounding, where they’ve been right around the middle of the league all season long.
Nic Claxton had been giving them some great minutes of late, but he’s once again been ruled out due to illness, which will further expose the flaws of DeAndre Jordan at center.
Aside from the issues on defense and in the frontcourt, and all the injuries (we didn’t even mention that Tyler Johnson is doubtful and Chris Chiozza is out), there’s the elephant in the room which is the Nets’ record at home — specifically, their record against the spread when favored.
Laying points with them in Brooklyn has been one of the least profitable spots you can find, with just a 41.7% hit rate (9-14).
The potential return of Durant is most of the reason why the Nets have opened as the heavy favorite in this contest, but I don’t think I’m willing to lay this many points without the certainty that he’s even playing.
Not only that, but the Celtics just absolutely suffocated one of the stronger offensive teams out West, and if they could do that to the Nets, who play some of the worst defense around, it could actually get out of hand.
Brooklyn lacks depth here with so many injuries, and it especially lacks it up front, where it’s still missing Claxton. It sounds crazy, but he’s one of the most important players on a roster full of household names. If the Celtics can control the glass again as they did against the Suns, once again it’s advantage Brad Stevens.
Speaking of whom, it’s been well-documented how well his teams perform ATS on the second night of a back-to-back historically, and while the team’s just 4-7 in the spot this season, I’m willing to trust what history has told us and also think that record might be a bit unfair due to the overall performance of his team earlier in the year.
I think the Celtics can very easily win this game outright, riding high and trying to fend off the Heat for the final spot outside of the play-in tournament.
Pick: Celtics +5.5 (-108)