The Boston Celtics are in full-on tank mode for 2015. They’re 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS since trading Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets have been surprisingly good NBA picks lately.
Jason’s record as of Jan. 6: 22-21-1 ATS, 2-4 Totals
It’s a bit too easy to forget how important Rajon Rondo was to the Boston Celtics. They’ve been rebuilding for a while now, and thanks to a combination of injuries and indifference, Rondo’s level of play has slipped the past couple of years. However, now that the Celtics have dealt Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, it’s obvious how much they miss him. Boston has gone 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS since the trade went down on Dec. 18.
Weren’t the Brooklyn Nets supposed to be shedding payroll, too? Not so fast; the Nets are 6-4 SU and ATS in their last 10 games, Brook Lopez is back in the lineup, and with the Eastern Conference turning into mush, maybe they can make another run toward the playoffs. Next up is Wednesday night’s battle (7:30 p.m. ET, YES) with the visiting Celtics. There are two key injuries preventing us from having any NBA odds at press time, but let’s see what we can do.
Fittingly enough, the injuries in question are at point guard. Deron Williams (16.9 PER) is considered doubtful for the Nets (16-18 SU and ATS) with a sore back/oblique. He and Kevin Garnett (plus-2.3 DBPM) both missed Monday’s 96-88 overtime loss to the Mavericks, who needed the extra frame to cover the 7-point spread. Garnett was given a maintenance day and will presumably suit up against his former team.
The Celtics (11-21 SU, 15-17 ATS) are also thin at the 1-spot with new arrival Jameer Nelson (9.7 PER) spraining his ankle and missing two games. In theory, that shouldn’t be much of a problem for Boston. Nelson doesn’t seem to have any gas left in the tank at age 32, and the C’s have plenty of other guards, including blue-chip rookie Marcus Smart (10.7 PER).
But what they don’t have is a working offense. With Rondo out of the picture, Boston has opted for a starting backcourt of Avery Bradley (10.1 PER) at the 1 and Evan Turner (12.5 PER) at the 2. This is a pair of combo guards who can play some defense, but they have yet to put up positive offensive BPM numbers in 12 combined NBA seasons. And Bradley’s defense has dropped off the past couple of years, too.
As for Williams, he’s been coming in off the bench since missing a pair of games in December with a strained calf. Jarrett Jack (13.6 PER) has been starting instead. Once again, not an ideal situation for the Nets; Jack is on his seventh NBA team in nine years, and hasn’t played much good basketball since a half-decent year with the New Orleans Hornets (plus-1.0 BPM) in 2011-12. But at least Jack can run an offense. He even had 20 points and 10 assists against the Mavericks on Monday.
It’s still going to be a tough row to hoe without Williams. The Nets stuck almost exclusively with seven players in the overtime loss to Dallas, with guards Darius Morris (5.9 PER) and the disappointing Bojan Bogdanovic (8.9 PER) limited to spot duty. Brooklyn’s bench got a little thinner on Tuesday when Brandon Davies (8.5 PER) was put on waivers – he was part of the trade that sent Andrei Kirilenko to the Philadelphia 76ers last month.
Getting Garnett back in the lineup on Wednesday would obviously help Brooklyn out. But it would also send Lopez (19.5 PER) to the bench; Mason Plumlee (19.4 PER) has taken over the starting center job. Which makes us think that the Nets really are going to blow this thing up and send both Lopez and Williams packing sooner rather than later. In the meantime we’ll still fade the Celtics, and make the Nets our NBA pick.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Nets