The No. 2 seed boston celtics (2-0) head to Barclays Center Saturday for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with the No. 7 seed Brooklyn Nets (0-2). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET and the game airs on ESPN. Below, we look at the Celtics vs. Net odds and linesand make our expert NBA picks, predictions and bets.
Boston held serve at home in Game 2 by rallying back from a double-digit deficit to beat Brooklyn 114-107 Wednesday.
The difference-maker in this series thus far has been the Celtics’ defense for Nets All-Star PF Kevin Durant who’s averaging an inefficient 25.0 points on 31.7% shooting (28.6% from behind the arc).
Boston is also getting a vintage performance out of C Al Horford who’s putting up 18.0 points on 72.7% true shooting (.609/.625/.750) with 10.5 rebounds and a plus-37 net rating.
There’s an outside chance of Celtics PF Robert Williams III returns in Game 3 from a knee injury and Williams’ presence makes Boston’s defense even stronger.
Celtics at Nets odds and lines
Odds provided by Typical Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports Scores and Sports Betting Odds hub for a full list. Lines last updated at 11:25 am ET.
Moneyline(ML): Celtics +133 (bet $100 to win $133) | Nets -165 (bet $165 to win $100)
Against the spread: Celtics +3.5 (-110) | Nets -3.5 (-110)
Over/Under: 221.5 (O: -112 | U: -108)
Celtics at Nets key injuries
FAQ Robert Williams III (knee) questionable
GP Ben Simmons (reconditioning)out
Celtics at Nets picks and predictions
Nets 113, Celtics 111
Brooklyn should win Game 3 and get back into this series but the Nets (-165) are too expensive considering how evenly matched these teams are. Instead of betting Brooklyn’s Game 3 ML, I’d entertain sprinkling on the Nets (+270) adjusted series price.
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LEAN CELTICS +3.5 (-110) Because I think the Nets win this game outright and generally the team that wins the game also covers the spread. Also, you could make a credible case that the Nets could be 2-0 with this series headed back to Brooklyn.
However, ultimately, the Nets aren’t 3.5 points better than the Celtics before Williams returned and, if Williams plays, Boston’s defense is the best in the NBA.
The Celtics score 5.9 more points per 100 possessions when Williams is on the floor and their offensive rebounding rate improves by 3.3%, according to CleaningTheGlass.com.
Boston is already grabbing nearly 10% more rebounds than Brooklyn in this series and if that gap widens when Williams plays then it’s impossible to pass on the Celtics getting points.
On top of that, nearly 70% of the money is on the Nets (according to Pregame.com) but the line hasn’t budged off the opener and is even ticking down at some sportsbooks.
Este line freeze tells me the oddsmakers are confident in their number and want more pro-Brooklyn action. Obviously, we don’t want to play into the House’s hand.
This is also a much more profitable spot for Boston than Brooklyn. The Celtics are 16-4 ATS on the road versus teams with a winning record. Whereas the Nets are 6-14-1 ATS at home versus teams above-.500 and 5-27-1 ATS as home favorites with a minus-7.6 ATS margin.
It’s only a READ to the CELTICS +3.5 (-110) Because I cannot see Boston wrapping this series up this weekend and that’s what will effectively happen if the Celtics go up 3-0.
BET the OVER221.5 (-112).
Both teams have a top-5 free-throw attempt rate in the playoffs, Brooklyn is fifth in effective field goal shooting and Boston is 10-7-1 O/U as a road underdog with a plus-6.2 total margin.
The assigned officiating crew for Game 3 also has a combined 130-106 O/U record, which provides even more support for an Over bet since each team gets to the charity stripe.
The Nets would be scoring more points if they attempted fewer long 2-pointers and hoisted more 3-pointers. Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash should have the Nets chucking more 3-pointers because that would extend Brooklyn’s defense and open space for KD to operate.
the OVER221.5 (-112) is my favorite wager in this game.
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