Play it Safe for Celtics-Pelicans Matchup and Focus on Total

Jordan Sharp

Sunday, March 18, 2018 3:40 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 18, 2018 3:40 PM UTC

Kyrie Irving, who has missed three of Boston's past five games because of a knee injury, is listed as questionable tonight in New Orleans. How should his uncertainty affect your NBA picks? 

Sunday NBA: Celtics vs. PelicansFree NBA Pick: Over 215Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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If Kyrie Irving plays tonight, the number on the NBA odds board would be thrown for a loop because Boston's offense would take a giant leap forward. However, because Irving will likely be a game-time decision, the better and safer play on this game is the total.

I believe the posted total is not compensation enough if Irving plays. With Irving on the court this season, the Celtics own a 111.7 offensive rating; without him, it's 104.3.

However, even if Irving sits out another one, all is not lost. The Pelicans play at one of the fastest paces in the NBA, and even though they will be without Rajon Rondo, the Pelicans’ offense gets better when Rondo is off the court.

With the Pelicans playing at a pace of 104.8 possessions per game since the All-Star break, we could see a faster style of game regardless of Irving’s status. The Celtics have cashed the "over" at 6-3-1 since the break, and if Irving plays, I like them to cash it again against the fast-paced Pelicans, so bet the "over" with your NBA picks.

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