Celtics vs. Warriors NBA Odds & Picks: Expect Golden State’s Offensive Struggles to Continue
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.
- Without Marcus Smart, the Celtics are tasked with slowing down Steph Curry against the Warriors on Tuesday night.
- Boston has lost two straight entering this game, but Kenny Ducey sees it as a potential get-right spot.
- Find out why he's backing the Celtics to cover as road favorites in San Francisco.
Celtics vs. Warriors Odds
|Moneyline||-136 / +114|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
In desperate need of a win to get back on track, the Celtics meet the Warriors in the nightcap on TNT Wednesday in what should be a cracker of a game.
The Celtics are reeling — they’ve dropped five of seven and lost Marcus Smart for an extended period — while the Warriors have covered in three of their past four games but have found it difficult to score.
Will Boston’s defense smother a lost Golden State offense, or will it feel the loss of Marcus Smart and continue on its skid? Let’s dig into the numbers and see if we can find some value with either side.
The Celtics need some good news.
After snapping a three-game losing streak with two wins against some of the league’s weaker teams, Boston has returned to a backslide, falling to the Spurs and the Lakers — the latter came in excruciating fashion on a missed jumper to win the game. To make matters worse, the Celtics lost perhaps their most important player late against the Lakers in Smart, who will miss two to three weeks with a calf strain.
Boston won’t have Smart, and will still be without Payton Pritchard in its quest to turn things back around against the Warriors.
Over their seven-game slump — in which they’ve lost five games — the Celtics have had a difficult time scoring the basketball, ranking 22nd in the NBA with a 108.5 Offensive Rating. That’s not what you want to hear when you’re getting set to play a strong defensive club, but as we’ll get to in a little bit the Warriors’ defense may be a bit of a mirage.
The biggest weapon Boston possesses is still its defense. Though the Celtics fell on hard times over their last seven games, they still found a way to rank in the top 10 of the league in defensive efficiency over that span. according to NBA Advanced Stats, and for the season they’ve ranked in the bottom third of the league in 3-point percentage allowed.
The Warriors’ offense has been somewhat of a disaster all season long, so Boston should have a distinct advantage on that end of the floor.
Golden State Warriors
About that disastrous offense … the Warriors have the 23rd-ranked offense according to the efficiency stats, and it’s hard to pinpoint the problem.
For starters, they don’t have Klay Thompson right now, which has increased the scoring burden on Stephen Curry. We’ve seen flashes — like his career-high 62 points earlier this year — but on the whole Curry is still very uncomfortable when being asked to do everything for the Warriors on offense.
There’s also the fact that the Warriors are trying to integrate numerous important players into their team on the fly, from rookie James Wiseman to human brick machine Kelly Oubre, Jr. With a shortened offseason and less time to practice, a lot of these guys are still just trying to get acclimated with one another.
There may be some hope on the horizon, however. It was only a handful of days ago that head coach Steve Kerr decided to move Kevon Looney into the starting lineup at center, replacing Wiseman. While this move upset many Warriors fans who love the fun things Wiseman does, the fact remains he’s still very raw as an NBA prospect and does the team more harm than good.
When he’s been on the floor this season, the Warriors have seen a difference of -6.5 points per 100 plays in their Offensive Rating, according to Basketball Reference. When Looney’s been on the floor? Golden State is seeing that number move into the black at +9.3 points per 100 possessions.
The sample size is still small, sure, but there is still a marked difference in the way this team plays when it’s got an experienced center versus one who’s struggling with his positioning and getting into foul trouble.
This will be an important matchup to watch considering Boston’s defense in the paint has left a lot to be desired, and the mark it makes on that side of the ball comes primarily on the perimeter.
Boston’s defense has been great, but how great will it be without Smart?
The numbers suggest it would stay afloat — Boston’s Defensive Rating gets a four-point boost with him off the floor this season — even though the eye test appears to show the opposite. Smart has been the heart and soul of the Celtics defense, and he will certainly be missed for the leadership and energy he brings on that side of the floor.
That might make a difference against one of the league’s top teams, but against the offensively-challenged Warriors, I’m willing to bet Brad Stevens’ bunch will be able to pass the test with flying colors.
While these aren’t the same Warriors we’re used to, taking considerably fewer threes, the fact remains that Golden State’s biggest weapon resides outside the arc, which is where Boston makes it money defensively.
This is a picture-perfect get-right spot against Boston, against a Warriors’ defense that has slipped of late, allowing some big games to the quality offensive teams they have played of late. This line opened at 2.5, moved up to 3.5 before some buyback pushed back to the opening number. I like the Celtics to cover on the road and would back them up to -5.
Pick: Celtics -2.5 (-112)