The Brooklyn Nets have been closing the gap on first place Toronto in the second-rate Atlantic Division with their play this month. They will attempt to move even closer and beat the betting odds against rival Boston, who has been spiraling out of control and not been favored by many making NBA picks.
Emotions Will be Running High for a Couple Brooklyn Players
It was one thing for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to face Boston players on Dec. 10 and look at their own uniforms and realize they were now wearing different colors, but it will be quite another to go back to the TD Garden and walk out on the floor from the visitors’ locker room.
Expectations are these two future Hall of Famers will be quite emotional despite their advancing NBA years and the response from the Celtics fans will be overwhelmingly positive. The challenging part for NBA basketball handicappers is what this will mean in terms of the contest with Boston and how to account for this.
Jason Kidd is Officially in Charge
Early in the season, first-year head coach Jason Kidd was getting hammered, being called "the worst coach in the league. "His “Watergate” move to gain a timeout for Brooklyn was proclaimed “bush league” by former coach Stan Van Gundy and Yahoo Sports NBA inside Adrian Wojnarowski suggested "an inability to manage crisis and keep the respect of his players"
Kidd was further panned as being too thin-skinned when assistant coach Lawrence Frank was "re-assigned" in December. Frank was supposed to be the guy to help Kidd with the nuts and bolts of being a NBA coach since he had no previous experience since he retired from the league just last season.
However, since the firing, Kidd has seemed to grow more comfortable in taking charge of all aspects of his team and with many Nets players finally healthy, they are 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS since the beginning of the year and are turning into the kind of a team most had anticipated.
Kidd to his credit has simplified the offense and defense and those making sports picks have Brooklyn as “play on” material.
Celtics Building towards the Future is Bumpy Ride Presently
Boston has lost 16 of their last 19 games (7-19 ATS) and is near the cellar of the division. To this point nobody is calling Celtics boss Danny Ainge a buffoon for hiring of Brad Stevens from Butler, as the general consensus is the team plays hard and is mostly overmatched talent-wise.
As far as positives for the C’s, most would have guard Avery Bradley at the top of the list being the team’s second-leading scorer at 14.5 points a game and he has diligently worked to expand his shooting range with unexpectedly good results.
Forward Jeff Green has been the top point producer (16.2 PPG) for Boston, but his play from game to game is frustrating for Celtics backers watching the NBA odds. Some nights Green is super aggressive and wants the ball, other games you would not know he’s on the court.
While just a rookie, first round pick Kelly Olynyk has been far too passive and needs a boost of confidence and play like he did last season at Gonzaga.
Brooklyn opened as a 4.5-point favorite on most NBA odds boards, with a total of 193. Here is an odd coincidence. The last three years, the Nets are 4-15 ATS on Sunday’s and Boston is 13-1 ATS on the same day when playing at home! (Celtics includes some playoff games)
Brooklyn could use a win today, because the schedule is daunting ahead with Toronto, Oklahoma City and San Antonio at home and a trip to Indiana inside this grouping.
After this meeting, Boston next four games are essentially 50-50 contests they could win, with a home and home with Philadelphia, plus at New York and hosting Orlando.
Head to Head Meetings
The Nets won and covered the earlier meeting 104-96 and is 2-2 SU and ATS in Beantown the past three years.
These division rivals are headed in opposite directions and look for Brooklyn to continue to play well and the motivated former Celtics lead their team to a win and cover.NBA Free Pick – Brooklyn by 9 points