'Under' in Monday's Celtics-Nuggets NBA Matchup is Wise Play

Jason Lake

Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:56 PM UTC

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 7:56 PM UTC

The Celtics have been difficult to pin down lately, but the "under" might belong in your NBA picks Monday night when Boston visits the Denver Nuggets.

Monday NBA: Celtics vs. NuggetsFree NBA Pick: Under 205.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Oh, those pesky Boston Celtics. They did it to us again on Wednesday, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 113-102 to cash in as 3.5-point road dogs on the NBA odds board. Then on Saturday they almost beat the Golden State Warriors (-11) in Oakland before losing 109-105. The Celtics are still 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS in their last six games, and they still have the earmarks of a fade-worthy team at this point, so should we stick with the program when Boston visits the Denver Nuggets on Monday night?

Maybe not. The Celtics (35-15 SU, 29-19-2 ATS) opened as 2.5-point road dogs, and that’s exactly where the fine folks at FiveThirtyEight have projected Monday’s game using their CARMELO formula. That formula accounts for the ridiculous home-court advantage the Nuggets (26-23 SU, 21-25-3 ATS) enjoy at high altitude, as well. We touched on this when we looked at the Denver Pioneers in college hoops; they’ve won back-to-back home games SU and ATS, by the way.

Pictures of You

Then again, CARMELO doesn’t yet account for injuries, as far as we can tell. Marcus Smart (minus-0.8 BPM) suffered a cut on his right hand following the Clippers game, after he “swiped at” a picture frame at the team’s hotel. He’s out until the all-star break. And Terry Rozier (plus-1.0 BPM) is day-to-day after spraining his right ankle in Oakland. That’s going to put a dent in Boston’s backcourt.

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So Marcus Smart cut his hand on a picture frame in Beverly Hills Wednesday -- exactly a year to the day after he argued with coaches and punched a hole in the locker room wall in Washington.

On January 24, 2019, Marcus needs to call in sick.

— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) January 26, 2018
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We’re still leery of the C’s, so let’s look at that total for our NBA picks instead. Monday’s over/under of 205.5 points isn’t massive by any means, but the "under" is 16-9 in Denver this year. Altitude weakens legs! And don’t look now, but Boston has the NBA’s No. 17-ranked offense at 104.4 points per 100 possessions, along with the top defense at 100.0 points allowed. The Celtics are also one of the slower teams in the league at 98.1 possessions per game (No. 20).

The Nuggets aren't much faster at 98.6 possessions per game (No. 19). They’ve got mediocre numbers when it comes to both offense and defense, but it’s the thin air in Denver that we’re really interested in. The "under" was the right pick in five of the last seven games these teams have played at the Pepsi Center. Let’s see if they can make it six of eight.

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