NBA Odds & Picks for Celtics vs. Nuggets: Expect Slow Pace in Sunday’s Early Tip (April 11)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Tristan Thompson #13 of the Boston Celtics, Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.
- The Boston Celtics head to Denver to face the Nuggets who are riding an eight-game winning streak ahead of Sunday's game.
- The Celtics have won two games in a row, but enter this matchup as underdogs with both their stars on the injury report.
- Austin Wang explains where he's finding betting value on the afternoon matchup.
Editor’s Note: Jamal Murray has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a sore knee. For more check our NBA Insiders tool at Action Labs.
Celtics vs. Nuggets Odds
|Moneyline||+200 / -255|
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via PointsBet|
Sunday’s matinee game features a cross-conference matchup between the Boston Celtics (winners of four of their past five) and the Denver Nuggets, the hottest team in the NBA. The Nuggets enter Sunday on an eight-game winning streak and have looked unstoppable since acquiring Aaron Gordon via trade from the Orlando Magic.
The disappointing Celtics have been performing better as of late and are coming off an overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves where Jayson Tatum scored 53 points.
With Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum all listed as questionable, it is tough to look to a side as of right now. In a matchup between two of the slowest-paced teams in the league, I am looking towards the total for value.
After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Celtics were poised to keep the momentum going with their two young stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, continuing to get better.
However, they have been a massive disappointment this season. The Celtics are 27-26 and sitting at seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, however, they are just one game behind fourth place. If they continue their strong play as of late, securing home-court advantage for the first round does not seem far-fetched.
After trading Daniel Theis, the Celtics have promoted Robert Williams III to the starting center position. He’s done well, bringing his high-energy style and strong defense; he may have given the Celtics’ starting line-up the boost they needed. However, he will have his hands full having to guard the front-runner for Most Valuable Player, Nikola Jokic.
Evan Fournier is still sidelined for the Celtics due to health and safety protocols, which will hurt their bench scoring and depth. If either Brown or Tatum miss Sunday’s game, I think their offense will take a huge hit and would be beneficial for a lower-scoring game.
Entering Sunday’s play, the Celtics play rank 22nd in Pace (98.6) per NBA Advanced Stats. They are ranked seventh in Defensive Rating (107.7) over their past five games and have gone under in seven of their past eight games.
When Jayson Tatum scores 30 or more points in the previous game, the Celtics have gone 20-12 (61.5%) to the under, per the Sports Data Query Language database. After a strong showing, the Celtics tend to slow down the game to set him up for more touches and could fuel him on the defensive side of the ball as well.
The Nuggets have been red-hot as of late, winning eight straight games. They were able to sneak away with a 121-119 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. Jamal Murray, who missed the past three games with a knee injury, is again questionable to play on Sunday. His absence would remove the Nuggets’ most dangerous scorer and allow the pesky Marcus Smart to deploy his services in causing disruption elsewhere.
There are still no shortage of scorers on Denver, with Jokic leading the way in a historic campaign and averaging a bear triple-double for the season. Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon would be filling in the gap on the offensive side if Murray does sit out, but that is huge gap to fill. If Murray is out, expect even more post-ups with Jokic and possessions where he slows it down and sets up the offense.
I think Gordon will match up better on defense against Tatum. The Nuggets previously did not have someone that could stop the dynamic swingman, but Gordon’s size and athleticism could potentially neutralize some of the threat Tatum poses.
The Nuggets play at the second-slowest Pace (97.5) in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats. I think their potential injury to Murray will no doubt hurt the Nuggets’ offense and I think the Celtics’ improved defense will be a tougher test for them as well.
Sunday games beginning at 3 p.m. ET or earlier have gone 17-7 (70.8%) to the under this season, per our Bet Labs tool. Teams appear to have trouble getting their offenses rolling for these early start times and it leads to lower-scoring games.
I also believe that the Celtics will be ramping up the defense as the season is getting to a point where teams are preparing for the playoffs. The Celtics will be giving their all on defense to make sure they improve their playoff seeding.
In addition, in a matchup between these two slow-paced teams and potential injuries to three key players (Murray, Tatum, Brown), I believe this game has a high chance to be lower-scoring than expected and go under the total of 223. My fair total on this game is 220 and I would play this down to 222.
Pick: Under 223.5