The San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics have two things in common: They’re tied at 5-5 against the NBA odds, and they both play Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
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So I was watching the Boston Celtics play the Houston Rockets Tuesday night (on TV, that is), and it sure looked to me like the Celtics were built for tanking. They were down 40-18 after the first quarter. In the end, Boston fell 109-85, dropping the cash as 10.5-point road dogs. This was an absolute de-pantsing, the kind we all expected when the season started.
Is it safe to fade the Boston Celtics now? Perhaps; they started the season with four straight losses (2-2 ATS), then shocked everyone with four straight wins (4-0 ATS), beating the defending champion Miami Heat in Miami. Now Boston is on another four-game losing streak at 0-4 ATS. It’s been one of those years for the basketball betting community. Let’s see how Boston stacks up against another team that hasn’t been delivering quite as expected.
15 Storey Halo
Yes indeed, next up are the San Antonio Spurs, who are doing just fine in the real world at 9-1 SU, but they’re treading water in the NBA betting world at 5-5 ATS. Business appears to have picked up, however, at 3-1 ATS in the past four games. The Spurs have been idle since Friday, as well, so they’ve got a very good opportunity to keep the cash registers ringing on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET, FSN). San Antonio is favored by 15 points; that’s up from 14 points at the open, although our consensus reports show 66 percent support for Boston.
When something like this happens, it’s usually one of two things: an anomaly in the data, or the sharps are unloading on the other side. I don’t know too many sharps who feel good about eating this much chalk, though. The Spurs are already 3-0 SU and 1-2 ATS this year as double-digit faves, and 19-2 SU and 9-12 ATS since the start of last season.
Having said that, something magical happens when the NBA point spreads reach –15. San Antonio is 29-1 SU and 20-9-1 ATS when laying at least 15 points, stretching all the way back to Y2K. The OVER is 18-12 in those games, so that’s a possible avenue if you’re not interested in eating chalk; however, the UNDER is a combined 15-7 for the Spurs and Celtics this year. Wednesday’s total is 192 points.
As for the Celtics playing on zero days of rest, it’s a short trip from Houston to San Antonio, and that blowout loss to the Rockets allowed head coach Brad Stevens to empty his reserves. Avery Bradley led all players with 27 minutes. Phil Pressey got to play 21 minutes. We even had a Keith Bogans sighting (12 minutes). I doubt fatigue will play much of a factor on Wednesday.
Besides, this is a very young Boston team. As rough as things look right now, the Celtics are getting positive reviews for rebuilding the right way. Stevens is working mostly with up-and-comers; Bogans and Kris Humphries have been planted firmly on the bench while Jared Sullinger (21.2 PER) and Jordan Crawford (18.6 PER) have taken more prominent roles. The combination of young legs and a willingness to listen to Stevens (himself a fresh-faced 37) is just what Boston needs for its slow rebuild.
Given all these criss-crossing NBA betting angles, I’m going to recommend adding the UNDER to your NBA picks in this situation. The Celtics rank No. 26 in the league in offensive efficiency and No. 12 in defense (another nod to Stevens), while the Spurs are No. 12 in offense and No. 2 in defense. On top of that, the Rockets game went UNDER 194 thanks in part to all those bench players getting onto the floor. We might see the same thing happen Wednesday.NBA Pick: Take UNDER 193 at Guardian