James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets host their Eastern Conference rivals in the Boston Celtics on Thursday evening. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics kick off the second half of the NBA campaign Thursday
- Brooklyn has been impressive at the Barclays Center this season, while the C’s have struggled on the road
- Get our odds, preview, and best bet for this contest below
The Brooklyn Nets welcome the Boston Celtics to the Barclays Center on Thursday, March 11th, tip-off 7:30pm ET.
Unfortunately for the Nets, they are still without Kevin Durant, who continues to be out with a hamstring injury. Also, Blake Griffin, who was recently acquired, won’t make his Brooklyn debut quite yet as he’s dealing with knee soreness.
The C’s get a huge boost to their lineup though, with the return of two-way standout Marcus Smart, who’s been on the shelf since the end of January.
Celtics vs Nets Odds
|Boston Celtics||+3 (-112)||+120||Ov 234 (-110)|
|Brooklyn Nets||-3 (-108)||-142||Un 234 (-110)|
Odds taken March 10 at Fanduel
Both of these teams met on Christmas Day, with the Nets securing a 123-95 win at the TD Garden.
Celtics Looking to Continue Dominance
It was an up-and-down first half for Boston, but they did finish it on a high note, collecting four consecutive victories. During that span, Brad Stevens’ team beat the Raptors, Clippers, Pacers, and Wizards.
Having Smart back in the lineup is also massive for the Celtics. During his absence, they went just 9-9. The former Oklahoma State standout is arguably their best defender and without him on the court, Boston lacked a spark when it came to limiting their opponents.
As we enter the second half of the season, Marcus Smart gives us an update on his return. pic.twitter.com/hmPj81nc1Q
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 10, 2021
Another reason for their underwhelming 19-17 record heading into the break was also injuries and COVID-19 related absences. Their core of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Smart have barely shared the hardwood together this season, which makes it tough to really create an identity.
Although Tatum and Brown have been the leading scorers for the C’s this season, Walker’s resurgence as of late has played a vital part in their success. He’s averaging 22.8 points across his last five games, compared to just 18.5 per night on the season. When Walker drops 20 or more points, the Celtics are 7-2. When he doesn’t? They’re just 3-8.
Although the C’s have been playing better lately, their betting trends don’t necessarily point towards a victory on Thursday. Stevens’ squad is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games while going 6-13 ATS on the road. But, as underdogs, Boston is 7-6 against the spread.
Back in action ☘️ #BleedGreen pic.twitter.com/SXacG4xkBj
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 10, 2021
With the Celtics’ entire roster finally healthy, they could certainly do some real damage as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.
Nets Flying High
Brooklyn has been showing out lately, going 9-1 in their last 10 games. That’s been without Durant too, which means James Harden and Kyrie Irving have been single-handedly steering the ship in the right direction.
In fact, their big three have played together just six times this season and by no surprise, they won five of those contests. Last Wednesday saw Harden make his official return to Houston since the Rockets shipped their superstar to Brooklyn and he dominated. The Beard collected a triple-double in a massive 132-114 victory, collecting 29 points, 10 rebounds, and dishing out an insane 14 dimes.
Steve Nash’s team has already made noise ahead of the trade deadline by adding depth in their frontcourt with Griffin. Although he’s not the same player from his Clippers days, the veteran is still a physical presence in the paint and a big body the Nets desperately needed after shipping off Jarrett Allen.
They’ve also immensely improved their defense recently as well, allowing just 112.4 points per game in their last 10 appearances.
Once Durant returns to full strength, it’s hard to imagine any team, even the Lakers, from stopping Brooklyn when it comes to their championship aspirations.
The Nets are just 12-15 as the ATS favorite this season. Also at home, they’re also only 10-9 against the spread. Nash’s squad has been a safe bet as the outright winner lately though, going 10-1 in their last 11 games straight up.
Although the Nets and C’s are on winning streaks, it’s been a week since they each played, which makes this an unpredictable matchup. Boston will certainly be looking a whole lot better with Smart back on the court, but, his minutes will be limited at first.
Brooklyn has looked far too dominant to bet against though. With Harden and Irving delivering on a nightly basis, you’re going to see them outduel Tatum and Brown here and help the Nets cover the spread. Also, both teams have hit the over relatively often lately, so there’s value there as well.
Pick: Brooklyn Nets -3 (-108), Ov 234 Points (-110)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.