Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics NBA Pick
Kemba Walker will return for the Celtics on Tuesday’s game against the Nets but the Under makes sense for NBA picks on this contest.
Brooklyn Nets (26-33) vs. Boston Celtics (41-18)
Tuesday, March 3 at 7:30 PM ET, TD Garden
How important is Walker to the Celtics? His absence really hurt his team in a tough 111-110 overtime loss against the Rockets last Saturday. Marcus Smart replaced him in the starting lineup and he shined with 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 45 minutes but the second unit was thin and lacked production.
The Boston bench scored just four points on 1 of 4 shooting in 51 minutes. Their best reserve was Grant Williams with two points in 14 minutes… You just can’t win in the NBA without help from the bench.
The Celtics were clearly spent in overtime, going scoreless in the last 2:30. Is hard not to see why, with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Smart playing 44 or more minutes and Gordon Hayward playing 41.
Will Tatum and Smart Play?
Kemba Walker (left knee) practiced on Monday and will play in his first game since the All-Star break. The star point guard will be available for “limited minutes,” which can help us beat the total.
“Kemba got through everything today,” head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “The plan, should he feel good tomorrow, would be that he would be limited.”
Walker (plus-5.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) will be rusty but you can clearly see how important he is.
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart missed practice on Monday with and illnesses and could be out against the Nets. Considering that the Celtics have to visit the Cavaliers on Wednesday, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tatum and Smart get the night off against the Nets.
Nets Need Some Players to Step Up
The East is so weak that the 26-33 Nets are expected to make the playoffs. Being the eighth seed means facing the Bucks in the first round so the Nets need to win as many games as possible to avoid them. Is this visit to the Celtics winnable? Yes, if Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince and Caris LeVert elevate their play.
Allen (plus-1.2 Defensive Box Plus/Minus) is underrated on defense. Different advanced metrics show that his defensive presence has value for the Nets but he has to be more consistent on offense. Allen’s offensive arsenal is a work in progress and that’s not just his fault. He has enough tools to be a force, dominating opponents at both ends of the court. All he needs is to put it all together. The Nets need him to be at his best on Tuesday night?
Prince is capable of scoring often and shoot the lights out but sometimes he can’t hold his own against certain defenders at the 4 and he struggles with his shot. The numbers don’t lie, ESPN ranks Prince 32nd in Offensive Real Plus/Minus (ORPM) and 68th among power forwards in Defensive Real Plus/Minus (DRPM). Of course, these are not perfect metrics but they do show that he has struggled at times, particularly on defense. That doesn’t help our Under play but maybe he fails to show up on offense as well.
Betting Trends and Prediction
The Under is:
6-2 in Brooklyn’s last eight games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
9-4 in Brooklyn’s last 13 Tuesday games
7-1 in Boston’s last eight games playing on 2 days rest
4-1 in Boston’s last five home games against a team with a losing road record
5-2 in Boston’s last seven home games
LeVert is a star in the making but he also lacks consistency. He will get his looks against the Celtics and he has the green light to shoot. Caris LeVert averages 20.5 field goal attempts over his last six games but he is shooting above 40 percent in just two of those contests. That can continue on Tuesday.