NBA Betting Odds & Picks for Nets vs. Celtics: Brooklyn’s Depth Is Too Much for Boston

NBA Betting Odds & Picks for Nets vs. Celtics: Brooklyn’s Depth Is Too Much for Boston article feature image
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Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets.

  • In Friday's featured matchup, the Brooklyn Nets face the Boston Celtics on the road for a Christmas day showdown.
  • The Nets looked unstoppable on opening night, but can Kevin Durant and Co. carry that momentum into a game with the battle tested Celtics?
  • Brandon Anderson previews the matchup, including his favorite bet in this game.

Nets vs. Celtics Odds

Nets Odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Celtics Odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -150 / +125 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 228.5 [BET NOW]
Time 5 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds as of Friday 3 p.m. ET via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics meet at the heart of Christmas Day in what is arguably the crown jewel of an entire day of Christmas NBA blessings.

Finally, Kyrie Irving makes his playing return to Boston. It’s only a shame we won’t have an arena full of gracious Celtics fans to welcome his return. Irving led all Brooklyn scorers with 26 points in a blowout win to open the NBA season, but the big story was the return of Kevin Durant.

The star hadn’t stepped onto a court in a year and a half, but looked like the same Durant we’ve known for years, hitting his patented pull-up jumper on his way to 22 points against his former team.

The Celtics also won their opener in a much more exciting game, knocking off the Milwaukee Bucks in a game that went down to the wire.

Boston pulled out ahead of Milwaukee in the third quarter, but Giannis Antetokounmpo led a big, late charge to help his team seize a one-point lead in the waning seconds.

However, Jayson Tatum responded with what turned out to be a game-winning three-pointer over the reigning two-time most valuable player. Antetokounmpo missed an ensuing free throw with 0.4 seconds left, which could have freaked overtime and the Celtics had escaped with the victory.

Friday’s game could well be a playoff preview, maybe even an Eastern Conference Finals matchup.

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Brooklyn Nets

It wasn’t just Durant and Irving getting it done in the opener. That’s what makes the Nets such an intriguing team.

The rest of Brooklyn’s roster is deep and versatile. The Nets are so deep they became the first team in NBA history to play 15 players in a single game, thanks to the new COVID-19 pandemic rules.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert would star on many other teams. In Brooklyn, Dinwiddie is a supporting cast member and LeVert (20 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the opener) is coming off the bench in a so-called Manu Ginobili role. Jarrett Allen would start for many teams (and probably should here, too), but is a reserve behind DeAndre Jordan.

Joe Harris got a ton of open corner threes against Golden State, and when he comes out, Landry Shamet is another dead-eye shooter waiting his turn.

Brooklyn will utilize its depth, at least until it makes some sort of consolidation trade. Opponents won’t really get a minute off for the time being. Remember, the Nets made the playoffs last year without Durant and (for the most part) Irving.

Brooklyn will have a big depth advantage in most games, and especially over Boston’s unproven bench. The big question mark for the Nets is their defense. The opener against the Warriors was such a rout we didn’t get many answers, but it was a bit troubling how many easy points rookie James Wiseman had.

That said, this will be Brooklyn’s first test of the season.


Boston Celtics

The Celtics have the biggest win of the season so far after knocking off the the Bucks. Boston is still adjusting to a bit of a short-handed roster. Gordon Hayward is gone after playing an integral role on last year’s team, and he wasn’t really replaced.

Kemba Walker is also missing as he rehabilitates an injury. Boston relied heavily on a six-man rotation, with two now gone and few replacements.

Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepped up in the opener, and will obviously be the key for Boston as long as Walker is out. The Celtics lose a ton of offensive creation and shot-making without Walker and Hayward.

Boston needs a lot more of that from its two star wings. The duo had six of the team’s 23 assists in the opener, and neither of those numbers is really enough.

The Celtics got big shooting from a few players in the opener. They got 30 points from Tatum, including six threes, and 33 points from Brown. However, it took them 52 shots to get there.

Boston also received a big night from sixth man Jeff Teague, who will have to play a much bigger role while Walker is out. Teague was a perfect 4 of 4 from behind the arc, leading to 19 points.

It’s easy to get excited about Boston after such a big win over a team many expect to finish with the best regular-season record for a third consecutive season.

Yet, it’s also worth noting the Celtics had hot three-point shooting from Tatum and Teague; led by 17 after the third quarter; and, still needed a miraculous three and a missed free throw to hang on.

Boston is always going to play tough, organized defense under head coach Brad Stevens, and made life difficult for the Bucks, with Marcus Smart taking a number of charges and pushing the Bucks all the way. Smart will be physical with Irving, and the Tatum-Brown combination has the length to push Durant.

The question remains that does Boston have the offense to hang with the best scoring teams? It’s hard to shake the feeling it’s going to be putting an awful lot offensively on Tatum and Brown.

Teague or Smart could always get hot, but if they don’t, suddenly you’re looking for points from guys like Tristan Thompson, Daniel Theis, Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye. If Boston does win a game like this, it’ll likely be because they got production from some of those guys doing the little things.

Nets-Celtics Pick

It’s tough to bet against an underdog Boston team at home on Christmas Day, wearing Christmas green no less. Yet, this is not the same environment Boston is going to be playing in without fans.

Brooklyn has an extra day of rest and barely broke a sweat in its opener, while the Celtics were pushed all the way.

Where Boston is relying on guys like Tristan, Theis and Ojeleye to play key roles, Brooklyn turns to Dinwiddie, Harris, Allen and LeVert. That’s a significant talent gap, especially on the offensive side of things.

A Boston victory in this game looks like a lower-scoring reality check for a Brooklyn team which thought things would be easy, with a swarming Celtics defense and a bunch of easy buckets at the rim by Boston’s role players.

The Nets might have the two best players on the court if Durant and Irving both show up. The starters could play even or maybe at a slight deficit, only to have Brooklyn’s reserves be the difference in the second and fourth quarters.

In the end, I’m going against many of my Action Network colleagues and backing the Nets here. I just can’t trust Boston’s offense to keep up with Brooklyn, not without Walker and so many role players getting big minutes. I’ll take Brooklyn at minus-3, though I likely won’t play it above that number.

I also wouldn’t be afraid to live bet the Nets if Brooklyn falls behind, especially at the start of the second or fourth quarter, where I expect the Nets reserves to have a big advantage. The Celtics surprised me in their opener, but they’re still going to have to earn my trust against these top teams.

Pick: Nets -3

[Bet the Nets at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]

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