Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets NBA Playoff Series Predictions and Odds
There are a handful of first-round playoff matches that intrigue me. For example, every single Western Conference matchup has must-see TV written all over it. In the east, while there are intriguing matchups and some personal beef between players (read: Joel Embiid vs Russell Westbrook), I think the Brooklyn/Boston series is “the” must-watch series of the first round.
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As of this very moment, the Nets are the favorites to win the Eastern Conference with odds of +105 and favorites to win the NBA Championship at +240. Their opponent, Boston, check in at +5000 to win the East and +10000 to reign supreme. Despite the emergence of Jayson Tatum as a bonafide star, I believe the Celtics are in over their head in this series. The Nets are -1600 to win the series, while the Celtics are +800.
In past seasons, when you thought of the Brooklyn Nets, you usually thought of an underachieving team that loved to take nights off and that hardly played any defense. They were typically an afterthought in the NY market. However, now they’ve managed to assemble a super team, and the league has been put on notice. The Nets legitimately have five starters that are all-stars, and they have a ton of championship experience with what Irving and Durant bring to the table. They are well-coached. And if they can dictate the pace of play, they should have no issues dealing with the plucky Celtics.
The Celtics, on the other hand, have a very impressive starting five in their own right, but they simply do not stack up with the Nets very well. Tatum is a superstar and can drop 50 when he wants. However, outside of that, Jaylen Brown is injured, and Kemba Walker is a very streaky player and can go missing from games at times. Unless the Celtics win games 100-90, I don’t see how the Boston can go shot for shot with the Nets.
Tale of the Tape
The Brooklyn Nets rank in the top 10 in all major offensive categories. They are second in points per game, behind only the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging a whopping 118.6 points per game. They are T13 in rebounds per game at 44.4, T5 in assists per game at 26.8, seventh in three-pointers made per game (14.2) and T2 in three-point field goal percentage at 39.2. They are also sixth in free throw percentage, connecting at an 80.4 percent clip. This year’s Nets’ squad is well-rounded and has the ability to hurt you both inside the paint and from the perimeter, which makes them a very dangerous team. Individually, the Nets boast four players that average double digits in points. They are led by Kyrie Irving, who is averaging 26.9 points per game on a 50 percent shooting average and .402 percent from beyond the arc. Irving also contributes six assists per game, which has him second in that category. Behind him, or should I say tied with him, is Kevin Durant. Durant averages 26.9 points per game, 5.6 assists per game and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting around .537 from the floor and .450 from beyond the arc. And finally, behind him is James Harden. Harden is averaging 24.6 points per game, 10.9 assists per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. He’s shooting .471 from the floor and .366 from behind the arc. To say this team is stacked would be an understatement, and I haven’t even mentioned the resurgence of Blake Griffin and/or Joe Harris.
The Celtics’ offense goes through Tatum, and when he isn’t putting up big numbers the team often falls flat on its face. The Celtics averaged 112.6 points per game, which has them ranked 16th. The only real category they rank highly in is offensive rebounds, which they rank T3 with around 10.5 offensive boards per game. Otherwise, the Celtics rank out poorly when you look at all the other categories. They rank T20 in pace (98.3), 19th in FG percentage, 11th in 3PT FG (13.6), T16 in free throw percentage and 25th in assists. Individually, we already know that this team goes through Tatum on the offensive floor, and he’s averaging 26.4 points per game, 4.3 assists and 7.4 rebounds on .459 percent from the floor and .386 from beyond the arc. Behind him, three other players average double figures. Walker leads the way with 18.1, while Marcus Smart averages 15.1, and Tristan Thompson averages 13. Jaylen Brown averages 22.2 but he’s injured, and Robert Williams averages 16.4 but he’s questionable to start the series.
Defensively, As I mentioned earlier, the only way I see the Celtics having a shot at winning this series is by slowing down the pace of play and winning low-scoring games. The Celtics actually rank better than the Nets do in defensive rating, but I just don’t think the Celtics have enough shut down defenders to contain the likes of Harden, Irving and Durant.
The oddsmakers have given the Nets the best chances to win the East and to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. They are -1600 favorites vs the Celtics for a reason. There is no chance they lose this series as they have an incredible roster and great depth. The Celtics had a good run to get to this point, but this is the end of the line. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was a 4-0 sweep, but I think the Celtics can muck it up enough to win at least a game.
Pick: Nets in five.
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