Both the Celtics and the Nets are looking to finish the season strong and climb up the Eastern Conference standings. Will the Celtics cool off a bit following an extended break? Can the Nets compete without any of their biggest stars at home? Let’s break down the prime-time matchup Thursday out of the All-Star break.
The Nets are extremely dependent on Kevin Durant, which makes sense considering he was the MVP front-runner prior to his injury. He remains out. The issue is they are now without option No. 2 (Kyrie Irving) and No. 3 (Ben Simmons). And the Nets’ offense just cannot outpace the points their defense was inevitably giving up. They are 27th in net rating over their past 10 games.
Now, they come out of the break against a Celtics team that was scorching hot and plays lock-down defense. I fully anticipate the Nets to struggle in this matchup. Even though Boston has had difficulties on offense, a date with a porous Nets defense may be just what it needs to kick start a run after the break.
This line is on the move. The Celtics already have been hammered to -6.5 from an open at -2. As a result, the best way to back the Celtics is their team total, as I expect them to put up points against this Nets team that truly lacks wing defenders.
The play: Celtics team total, Over 110.5 (-110).