Pistons-Celtics Betting Guide: Boston’s Biggest Red Flag

Pistons-Celtics Betting Guide: Boston’s Biggest Red Flag article feature image
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Photos from USAToday Sports. Pictured: Blake Griffin and Al Horford

Betting odds: Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics

  • Spread: Celtics -8.5
  • Over/Under: 209.5
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

>> All odds as of 11 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets


These teams just played Saturday, with Boston winning in Detroit by 20 points. Can the Pistons get anything going offensively on the road? Is the Celtics offense turning a corner? Our analysts are here to discuss.


Locky: Is There Any Value in the Current Lines?

This is a rather straightforward spot from a handicapping standpoint. These are the same teams from the last meeting, with no games in between and no significant injuries (unless you count Daniel Theis, who did play 19 minutes in that last game).

And in the last game, after all influential people with an opinion had registered it, the line closed Celtics -3.5. Although the Celtics outperformed expectations significantly, winning 109-89, the market did not overreact at all to that one game, and I’m not overreacting either.

Let me explain: If you flip home court, worth about three points, from the closing Pinnacle number in the last game, you get the current spread of Celtics -8.5. You could argue Detroit’s home court is less advantageous (since no one shows up) and Boston’s is more (since people actually show up), so it’s possible Detroit’s is only worth two points (or fewer).

Brad Stevens now knows how first-year Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to run everything. Stevens with practice time and film is a dangerous weapon, but that’s not enough reason for me to back the Celtics at this number.

My evaluation of these teams remains unchanged from before their first matchup, so the spread looks spot-on.

The over/under opened just 2.5 points lower than the close in the last game (which went way under by 13.5 points). Will the Celtics’ defensive prowess shine through again?

If anything, the under would be my lean here, with the teams now having total familiarity and unlikely to throw new offensive wrinkles into the equation in a regular-season rematch. — Ken Barkley


Mears: Is Boston’s Offense Going to Improve?

Like many expected it would be, the Boston defense has been excellent this season, ranking first in the league (per Cleaning the Glass) by allowing just 95.9 points per 100 possessions. But the offense … sheesh, it’s been bad.

The Celtics are doing almost nothing well:

  • Points/100: 101.5 (27th)
  • eFG%: 47.8% (28th)
  • Turnover rate: 13.9% (13th)
  • Offensive rebound rate: 24.5% (23rd)
  • Free throw rate: 17.4% (24th)

Sure, the shooting will likely come around a bit. The Celtics sit seventh in 3-point rate but just 24th in 3-point percentage. That will regress toward the mean.

But there’s one hit on their shot profile that really worries me: Boston ranks 29th in frequency of shots at the rim, finishing possessions there just 29.1% of the time, according to data from Cleaning the Glass.

The Celtics have essentially made themselves a jump-shooting team, which can work but is also subject to wild swings of variance.

It’s still very early, but if this is the shot profile the Celtics are going to stick with throughout the season, I’m worried that it really limits their playoff ceiling.

Put simply: You aren’t going to win a jump-shooting competition with teams such as Golden State. You have to create easy looks when shots aren’t falling, and the Celtics just don’t have that in their repertoire right now.

This is the biggest question facing Boston right now. — Bryan Mears


Betting Trends to Know

On Saturday, the Celtics won and covered against the Pistons as 3.5-point favorites. According to our Bet Labs data, teams have been undervalued when they failed to cover their previous game as an underdog and are facing an opponent that covered the spread its past game.

It’s the optimal scenario to wager on such teams is when they are listed as road underdogs, like the Pistons are. — John Ewing

As John noted, the Pistons were blown out by 20 points against the Celtics in their last game (and shot an abysmal 37.1% from the field) They now travel to Boston to try to get revenge.

The Pistons were 4-0 before their loss to Boston. Since 2005, teams that are over .500 coming off a loss of 20 or more points in which they shot less than 40% from the field have gone just 97-113-3 against the spread (46.2%), losing bettors 20 units.

When the game is played in October or November, those teams have gone 8-23 ATS (-15.5 units), failing to cover the spread by 5.2 points per game.

There may be a catch, however: The Pistons are currently 8.5-point underdogs in Boston. Teams receiving six points or more in this spot have actually gone 11-3-1 ATS, covering the spread by 7 PPG.

It has been widely noted how profitable Stevens has been as an underdog with the Celtics, but when he and Boston have some expectations on their backs, it hasn’t gone so well.

After the Celtics have won by double digits and then have been listed as the favorite in their next game, they’ve gone 27-34-1 ATS (44.3%). When they’ve won by 20 or more and then are listed as a favorite, they’ve gone just 6-9 ATS, failing to cover by 3.6 PPG. — Evan Abrams


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.