Brooklyn Nets vs Boston Celtics (2/1 @ 7:30 PM EST)
Spread: Celtics -8
Money Line: Nets +295 / Celtics -360
Overview and Billing Info
The Brooklyn Nets (31-19) are heading out to Boston on Wednesday to take on the Celtics (36-15) in a matchup of conference rivals. These teams have played twice this season, with the Celtics comfortably winning both. Boston currently leads the East, while the Nets have dropped to fourth.
The Nets are 25-24-1 against the spread this season and have covered five of their last six games. They’ve gone over the total 21 times and have done so in three of their previous four games.
The Celtics are 26-25 versus the spread but have not covered their last six games. They’ve gone over the total 24 times but have been under in four of their previous six.
In January, the Nets lost Kevin Durant (29.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 5.3 APG) and promptly lost six of their next eight games. As bad as that skid was, things have turned around lately, with the team winning their last two games. Their scoring is down without Durant in the lineup, but the Nets have made up for it on defense. Brooklyn is 14th in the NBA in scoring (114.6 PPG) but leads the league in field goal percentage (50.9%) and is second in three-point percentage (39.6%). Their defense is tenth in defensive rating (112.3), first in blocks per game (6.9), and sixth in points allowed (111.5).
With Durant out and Ben Simmons (7.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.4 SPG) missing again with a knee injury, the Nets will turn to Kyrie Irving (27.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.1 SPG). The former Celtic has been on fire recently, averaging 35.6 points and 7.6 rebounds over their last five games. He has been incredible from deep during that stretch, making 50% of his attempts from three. After leaving the team, he torched the Celtics in his first two matchups but has struggled over his last four (19.0 PPG).
Kyrie will need support from some of the Nets’ key role players, led by Nic Claxton (13.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.7 BPG). The young center is having a breakout season and currently leads the NBA in blocks. After Durant went down, Claxton scored 17.6 points with 30 blocks and 11.2 rebounds while amassing 30 blocks during the ten-game span. His scoring has dipped in their last two games, scoring a combined 19 points. Claxton is joined by Seth Curry (10.8 PPG, 42.4 3PT%) and Royce O’Neale (9.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.0 APG). Curry is a deadly shooter who will play a key role with Simmons out again. He’s coming off one of his worst games, going 0-5 from three and scoring just six points. O’Neale has been great in the team’s last two wins, scoring 28 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and stealing the ball three times. Keep an eye on Cam Thomas and Patty Mills as well, as they came off the bench to score 21 apiece against the Lakers.
The Celtics enter Wednesday leading the East, but they have lost three of their last four games. The skid is partly due to the offense failing to generate points as they were. They’re averaging 108.7 points over their last four games (two of which went to overtime). Boston is third in the NBA in scoring (117.8 PPG) and seventh in rebounding (44.7) and assists (26.3). Surprisingly, they haven’t been very efficient from the field and are sixteenth by making 47.2% of their shots. On defense, Boston ranks eleventh in points allowed (112.3), fourth in blocks (5.4), and twenty-ninth in steals (6.4).
Boston is led by a pair of All-Stars in Jayson Tatum (31.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG) and Jaylen Brown (27.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG). Tatum is their lead scorer and has three straight games with 30+ points and 11 points rebound. He’s been fantastic on defense over their last two games, with two blocks and three steals. Brown missed some time with an injury in January but appeared to be back to full strength after scoring 37 points and nine rebounds in their last game. The forward has a five-game steal streak, with seven during that span. Both were fantastic in their appearances against the Nets earlier this year.
The Celtics’ role players are led by Malcolm Brogdon (14.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 44.7 3PT%), who has been one of the best sixth men in the league. He had his best month in January, averaging 17.3 points and making 47.1% of his threes. He will play an even more critical role with Marcus Smart (11.1 PPG, 7.2 APG) out until after the All-Star game. Derrick White (10.3 PPG) has stepped up with Smart out, averaging 17.3 points and blocking four shots in their last three games. Keep an eye on defensive star Robert William III (7.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG), as he is questionable, missing their last game with an ankle injury. Williams has four blocks in his previous three games and would be a key piece in stopping an emerging Claxton.