Nuggets vs. Celtics prediction: NBA odds, picks, bets bets for Friday
Fridays matchup in Boston could be a preview of the NBA Finals, with the Celtics hosting the Nuggets at TD Garden.
Denver will play the second game of this East Coast swing after suffering a 126-121 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Despite their 28-14 record, the defending champions are just 11-10 on the road.
However, this is still a dangerous Nuggets team with a two-time MVP in Nikola Jokic.
Denver played a heavy schedule last season, given its deep playoff run, so there was always the thought wed see some fatigue to start this season.
But to their credit, the Nuggets have answered the bell.
While its a bit surprising that Denver enters this matchup as high as a seven-point underdog, its worth noting the Celtics are a league-best 20-0 at home.
After running the numbers, my model doesnt show an edge with either side or total (234 points), so well turn to the player props market to find some value.
With so much of Denvers offense running through Jokic, its normal to expect the 6-foot-11 center to dictate the game’s tempo.
At 285 pounds, Jokic is almost an immovable force if hes inside the paint or bringing the ball up the court.
According to TeamRankings, the Nuggets rank last in the NBA in possessions per game (100.5).
Theres also very little difference in their tempo, whether at home (100.9 possessions per game) or on the road (100.2 possessions per game).
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets shoots over Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. Getty ImagesHence, its almost fitting that their totals are evenly balanced, considering that the under is 12-9 both home and away.
While the Nuggets might look more attractive on the point spread, the Celtics have been a bit of a buzzsaw at home, given their perfect record.
Moreover, Boston has a double-digit point differential (+10.0), which is almost unthinkable midway through the season. And when the Celtics are at home, that point differential balloons to +15.7.
Thus, this point spread is right where it should be, making both the side and total an easy pass for me.
The Celtics commitment to their perimeter strategy is why theyve often been able to create double-digit margins in their games.
Boston leads the league in 3-point attempts (42.6 per game) and 3-point field goals (16.2 per game).
While many teams around the league have adopted this aggressive 3-point strategy, very few are as adept as Boston from behind the perimeter.
Only four teams (Clippers, Thunder, Pelicans and Timberwolves) have a better 3-point shooting percentage than the Celtics (38.1%).
The Celtics are undefeated at home. Getty ImagesInterestingly, none of those four take nearly as much risk as Boston does from behind the perimeter, as they all rank in the bottom half of the league in 3-point attempts.
Weve seen the Celtics embrace this aggressive 3-point stance over the past few seasons while tinkering with the roster to find the right mix of players.
Why else would they choose to part with key players they drafted, like Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III?
By jettisoning both players, the Celtics now have a team better suited to their style of play.
Nuggets vs. Celtics pick
The addition of Kristaps Porzingis has given the Celtics a completely different look than when they had Williams patrolling the paint.
Not only is the Latvian a capable rim protector on the defensive end, but he can also create space for his teammates by stretching the floor on the perimeter.
The 7-foot-2 center attempts 4.9 3-pointers per game, whereas Williams has yet to even attempt a 3-pointer in his six years in the pros.
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While his home/away splits are very even, considering his scoring average of 19.1 points in either scenario, he tends to perform better from beyond the arc at TD Garden ( 37.1% vs. 28.6%).
Porzingis can be a matchup nightmare for opposing centers who must step out of the paint to guard him in the backcourt.
If he goes into the paint against Jokic, hell likely be a willing passer to find open teammates on the perimeter.
Over his past four games, Porzingis has averaged 4.5 assists. His points + assists prop is set at 19.5, and that number feels short for a game with this high of a total.
Porzingis can go over this prop with his scoring alone (hes averaging over 20 points in 12 career games against Jokic), but his recent ball distribution offers even greater value.
Pick: Kristaps Porzingis over 19.5 points + assists (-105, DraftKings)
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