Celtics and Wizards to stay ‘under’ is the NBA Pick

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, December 27, 2014 5:33 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014 5:33 PM UTC

Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Saturday.


There could a smaller point output than the posted total suggests Saturday night in our nation’s capital when the new-look Boston Celtics (10-17, 3-8 away) pay a visit to the Washington Wizards (20-8, 13-4 home) at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - New England.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 202½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -106.

One of Top Records in Eastern Conference
The Wizards were expected to compete for the South Division title once LeBron James left the Heat, and at 20-8 Washington indeed sits just one-half game behind the 21-8 Atlanta Hawks in the division and 1½ behind the 22-7 Toronto Raptors for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards have an early MVP candidate in John Wall but they are also much improved defensively this season relative to recent years.

The 10-17 Celtics have no playoff aspirations and they have been the losing NBA picks in three straight games after falling at home to the Brooklyn Nets 109-107 on Friday. At least the 107 points was an improvement for a team still adjusting to life without Rajon Rondo, who was the last remaining piece of the recent Boston glory years and was still leading the NBA in assists with not much around him at the time he was traded last week.

Defense Sparks 6-2 ‘under’ Run
The Wizards snapped a two-game losing streak by going into Madison Square Garden and beating the New York Knicks 102-91 on Christmas Day, a game that also marked the teams third straight ‘under’ and that brought the ‘under’ to 6-2 in the last eight Washington games.

And that is a testament to the Wizards’ improved defense that is ranked fourth in the NBA in points against at just 96.9 points per game, sixth in field goal percentage allowed at only 43.7 percent and fourth in defensive efficiency as one of only five NBA teams allowing less than 100 points per 100 possessions, at 99.6 points. That defense held six of the eight opponents during the current ‘under’ run to below 100 points.

Granted the offense is averaging 100.5 points per game with the MVP candidate Wall leading the way with his 18.0 points, 10.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per contest, but those 100.5 points are still just 18th in the league and the combined average of all Washington games this season of 197.4 points is about five points less than this posted total.

Lacking Distributor since Trading Rondo
And another problem with this total being above 200 is that only one team could be doing a lot of the scoring with the Celtics not contributing that much as Boston continues its transitional phase without Rondo. Sure the Celtics put up 107 on Friday, but we do not expect them to duplicate that abnormal 51.7 percent shooting effort (45-for-87) again tonight.

Despite that great shooting, new starting point guard Marcus Smart, the rookie out of Oklahoma State, had only six assists, which was actually the most he has had as a starter in the four games since the trade. So while the fact that his assists are going up a bit is a positive, he is still more of a shooting guard than a true point and he may never approach the 10.8 assists Rondo was averaging when he was dealt.

Trying to Buck Recent History
Now granted the ‘over’ is 7-1 in the last eight head-to-head meeting between these teams, but both clubs are now different than when that streak was garnered. The Celtics had taken a step back offensively without Rondo prior to Friday’s aberration while the Wizards are now playing the best defense they have played in many years.

Thus we will toss that trend out and look for the Celtics and Wizards to begin a new trend by staying ‘under’ in Washington on Saturday.

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NBA Pick: Celtics, Wizards ‘under’ 202½ (-106)


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