Take the Pistons over the Celtics for NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Sunday, March 9, 2014 2:30 PM GMT

Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014 2:30 PM GMT

Two of the NBA's original franchises will meet for the 358th time on Sunday when the Detroit (via Fort Wayne) Pistons visit the Boston Celtics. The NBA betting lines opened with Boston laying a peach basket.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 7 inclusive:

78-58-1 ATS

20-18 Totals

They don't have an Original Six tradition in the NBA, but they do have an Original Eight. That's how many teams the fledgling league was down to by 1955. All eight survive to this day, and while many of these franchises have moved to greener pastures, it still a relatively big deal anytime the Boston Celtics (21-41 SU, 30-31-1 ATS) meet the Detroit Pistons (24-38 SU, 27-34-1 ATS). Even if it's not the Fort Wayne Pistons.

Sunday will be one of those days. The Celtics have opened as 2-point home favorites on the NBA lines with a total of 204.5, and while it's still too early to give you a full consensus report as we go to press, my spies tell me the initial burst of betting action was on Boston. Seems to make sense; the C's are 3-1 ATS in their last four games, while the Pistons have dropped back-to-back paydays heading into Sunday's matchup (6:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV).

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Third Time Lucky

I really, really want to recommend the OVER in this matchup. The Pistons have the OVER at 43-19 this year and 7-3 in their last 10 games. But the two times I pulled the trigger, Detroit went UNDER. It happened against the New York Knicks, and it happened against the Minnesota Timberwolves. That shouldn't deter me from recommending the OVER again. But it does make me want to investigate a little more closely.

Boston (UNDER 37-25) has been a steady UNDER team for most of the 2013-14 season. There was a four-game winning streak for the OVER at the end of February, but the Celtics got right back on the bus and went UNDER in each of the past two games. They're not as glacially slow as you'd like from an UNDER team (96.1 possessions per game, No. 16), and the C's aren't all that great at defense (103.4 points allowed per 100 possessions, No. 14). But they sure are lousy at scoring (98.5 points/100, No. 29). Not a great dance partner for the Pistons and the OVER.

Sagging Johnson

Guess we'll have to turn our attention back to the NBA spreads. And it's interesting that Boston is allegedly getting the early action, even though Detroit is 6-1 SU and 6-0-1 ATS in their past seven meetings. I suppose we have to throw out everything before this season, seeing as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings weren't involved. Detroit won both of this year's previous matchups at 1-0-1 ATS.

Yeah, but we can't really count those games, either. Both happened before Rajon Rondo (15.8 PER) made his season debut for Boston. Not just Rondo, but Chris Johnson (11.4 PER), as well. Okay, Johnson has cooled off after giving the C's some good games in late January. But how about another relative new addition, Jerryd Bayless (12.7 PER)? He's had some nifty performances lately, including a 29-point outburst against another Original Eight team, the Atlanta Hawks.

One other thing to consider for Sunday's matchup: the tanking. Detroit is still clinging to playoff life, three games behind the Hawks for eighth place in the Eastern standings at press time. Boston is another three games behind Detroit. Both the Pistons and Celtics have been losing a lot lately, but that was the game plan for the C's this year. Detroit added Smith (14.6 PER) and Jennings (16.7 PER) to make the playoffs, not to contend for another high lottery pick. That's just enough speculative logic for me to stick with the recent trends in this matchup and follow the Pistons.

NBA Pick: Take the Pistons +2 (–105) at Pinnacle

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