Pistons vs. Celtics: NBA Picks to Profit Off Low-Scoring Affair

Jason Lake

Sunday, March 22, 2015 1:11 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 22, 2015 1:11 PM UTC

The Boston Celtics had their 6-0 ATS winning streak snapped on Friday, but they can get right back on the horse Sunday night when they face the Detroit Pistons as 6-point home faves on the NBA odds board.

Jason’s record as of Mar. 20: 55-49-4 ATS, 5-9 Totals, minus-1.00 units ML

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It looked like another bad loss was in store for the Detroit Pistons. Then a funny thing happened: They started winning. Down 19 points in the third quarter to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, the Pistons went on a 14-0 run, then kept pouring it on in the fourth to prevail 107-91 as 3-point home dogs. Make it three ATS wins in Detroit’s last four games.

Having to play the Boston Celtics on Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET) might not look all that appetizing for Detroit; the Celtics are 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games. But Marcus Smart won’t be playing for the C’s. He’s been suspended one game for hitting San Antonio’s Matt Bonner south of the border Friday night. Isaiah Thomas is still out for Boston, too. Will the Celtics have enough in reserve to beat Detroit? Sunday’s NBA odds have the Pistons getting six points on the road.


Bad Boys II
It’s never wise to put too much stock in the events of one game, but the Pistons still showed plenty of moxie on Saturday. They started the game by hitting shot after shot – Caron Butler (8.4 PER) turned back the clock with 13 points in the opening quarter. Then everything went to heck in a handbasket, as it often does for Detroit these days.

That’s when Joel Anthony (13.5 PER) took over. Yes, Joel Anthony, the quiet 6-foot-9 Canadian who’s played scant minutes over the past three seasons. With Greg Monroe (21.1 PER) on the shelf because of a strained right knee, Anthony came in during the third quarter, made a bucket, grabbed a couple of rebounds, and set the tone defensively for Detroit where Anthony Tolliver (12.3 PER) could not.

Then the Pistons offense kicked in. Reggie Jackson (14.2 PER) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10.8 PER) found another gear, and before you knew it, Detroit was ahead. Then it was Spencer Dinwiddie (9.2 PER) and Jodie Meeks (14.0 PER) doing the same thing in the fourth. The way the Palace of Auburn Hills was jumping, you would have thought it was 1989 all over again.


Not So Smart
The Pistons (25-44 SU, 33-36 ATS) are still a mess of ill-fitting and questionably talented players at this point, especially with Monroe not expected to play Sunday. But here they are at 2-4 SU and 4-2 ATS in their last six games. And they might be catching the Celtics (30-38 SU, 40-27-1 ATS) at just the right time. We’ve been making a lot of money off Boston lately, thanks in part to the play of Thomas (23.3 PER, plus-3.0 BPM) and Smart (11.3 PER, plus-0.8 BPM). Neither of those guys will be on the court.

Instead, we can expect a lot of Evan Turner (11.9 PER, minus-1.7 BPM) and Avery Bradley (11.5 PER, minus-2.0 BPM) in the Boston backcourt. Neither of those two gentlemen is a proper point guard. And how much trust do you want to put in Phil Pressey (11.3 PER, minus-2.5 BPM)? It’s almost enough to make you want to bring Rajon Rondo (15.5 PER, plus-0.2 BPM) back to Boston. Almost.

The Pistons are playing on zero days of rest, and they’re not all that trustworthy, either, so we’re inclined to put the UNDER in our NBA picks for Sunday. The UNDER is 9-5-1 for the Pistons since the trade deadline, and 4-2 for Boston in the past six games without Thomas in the lineup. Factor in the absence of Monroe and Smart, plus Detroit’s lack of rest and slow pace on offense, and you’ve got the potential for a low-scoring affair.

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