The Boston Celtics are still leading the Atlantic Division despite an 8-12 SU record, but they are 11-9 ATS, and tonight they are a +5 home underdog against the Nuggets in the NBA odds. Denver had their seven-game winning streak snapped this past Wednesday in Cleveland, and tonight against the Celtics, while I think they will win the game, I doubt it will be by more than five points.
Not only are the Boston Celtics 11-9 ATS this season, but they matchup well against a Nuggets team that is knee deep in an early-season road trip. Even after their loss in Cleveland, the Nuggets are still a little overvalued here. Even though the Celtics are also outplaying their talent level to start the season, Boston has always been a tough place to play, especially for Denver.
Ty Lawson has averaged only 32% from the floor on this road trip, and after him, the Nuggets really lack scoring with Danilo Gallanari still out from his knee injury last season. When Lawson isn’t scoring the ball, and with Gallo out, Denver is left with several mediocre scorers to look to, and I think that will be the story for the second night in a row.
While the Boston defense isn’t great, it isn’t bad either, and what they really do well is slow down opposing guards. Avery Bradley is a great on-ball defender, and if Lawson is too quick, the bigger and faster Jordan Crawford is capable of slowing down Lawson as well. Jeff Green should do some damage on the offensive end along with Crawford, and with Jared Sullinger playing well recently, the Nuggets are in danger of losing two in a row for the first time since the middle of November.
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The Sharp Pick
Since the Celtics have been so dominant over the last several years, the Celtics own the matchup history against the Nuggets, especially when playing in the Garden. Boston has covered the last two meetings, as well as six of the last seven games between these two teams. On top of that, the Celtics are 3-1 ATS in their last four home games against the Denver Nuggets.
While the Boston Celtics are undersized, so are the Denver Nuggets to an extent. Only Timofey Mozgov has really been coming on for the Nuggets in the post recently, and even if he does have a nice game in Boston tonight, I doubt it will be enough cover at the Garden. If Mozgov is the Nuggets’ second best player in this one, I have little fear the Celtics won’t cover. This is a guy that is still most famous for getting dunked on by Blake Griffin, and unless he sustains his solid play, that thought may stick around.
I expect Crawford to stay hot tonight and for Green to dominate the Nuggets at the small forward position. The Nuggets were hampered by some solid defense from the Cavs a few nights ago, and while they aren’t anywhere close to that good on defense, the Celtics do have some upside on that end of the floor. I’m backing Boston at +5 with my NBA picks, as I expect the line to start shrinking maybe as early as the noon hour.
My NBA Pick: Celtics +5