Brooklyn at Boston
Time: 6:30 PM CST (TNT)
Spread: BOS -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Brooklyn Nets are 26-33 and seeded No. 8 in the Eastern Conference. The Nets are 10-20 on the road where it faces the No. 3 seeded 41-18 Boston Celtics. Boston has won seven of its last 10 SU and is 7-point favorites in the clash, with the over/under set at 220 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Boston Celtics are clearly a better team without Kyrie Irving. Boston is 41-18 and is currently seeded No. 3 in the Eastern Conference.
Kemba Walker has stepped into the role of No. 1 scorer, and he is averaging 21.6 points and 5.2 assists in his first season as a Celtic. Jayson Tatum, too, has stepped it up in his third season. The former Duke swingman is averaging 20.9 points and seven rebounds per game. And if that was not enough, Jaylen Brown has taken on a much bigger scoring role in averaging just under 20 points per game. Adding to this trio, Gordon Hayward is progressing well from his surgery and should be back in the lineup soon. The C’s are locked and loaded and absolute contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Boston averages 113.4 points per game this season while continuing to play its tough brand of defense. The team shoots 45.8 percent from the floor and 35.4 percent on threes (33.5 attempts per game). Boston also is still waiting for eventual-starting center Enes Kanter to round into shape following an injury to starting the season. Kanter has shown bright flashes, but his consistency is something the C’s are trying to figure out. Daniel Theis performed admirably in his absence, but Kanter will bring a scoring punch to the 5-spot that Theis and Robert Williams III cannot.
Marcus Smart continues to function well as a jack-of-all-trades sixth man, or a “stretch-6” as he called himself in the preseason. Smart is averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 assists per game and can provide defense at all positions. The Celtics depth is functional— in the sense that its backups provide different looks and strengths than its starters. Carsen Edwards has looked good in limited minutes and will be a solid backup for Walker for the first three seasons of his NBA career. The Celtics just have a lot going on, and even without Hayward and Kanter, this team has rolled to a .750 winning percentage thus far.
BRK news & notes:
Brooklyn enters as winners of just four of its last 10 SU. The Nets are 26-33 but still very much in the playoff chase, indeed lodged in the No. 8 spot in the East. Brooklyn is in the chase, but the real question most have is “Did Kyrie Irving actually make the Nets a better team?”
A superficial glance at his stats would indicate “yes,” but there is far more to it than that. Irving has been questionable in terms of his leadership, and he is doubtfully really making his teammates better while he is on the court. Even so, LeBron James’ former sidekick is putting up numbers: 28.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. Perhaps what has really enabled the success though is the play of Spencer Dinwiddie, who is a legitimate All-Star this season. Dinwiddie was expected to regress with Irving joining the fold, and the opposite has happened: He is having his best career year.
Dinwiddie is averaging 22 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game while posting the third-highest PER of any Net (18.54). Caris LeVert has missed the majority of this season after suffering an injury early in the season. Prior to going down, LeVert was averaging 15.6 points and 3.4 assists per game. He is needed as a third scorer in the starting lineup, and his subtraction only appears to be minor. LeVert has a penchant for finding his offense and he would take some pressure off of Irving and Dinwiddie, and indeed, the Nets will be far more formidable when he returns to the fold. The injury to his thumb was expected to cause him to miss 4-to-6 weeks after having surgery, but there is no real time table on his return even so.