Thursday night features an Eastern Conference heavyweight battle as the top two teams clash when the Boston Celtics (30-12) take on the Brooklyn Nets (27-13). The Nets will host this one at the Barclays Center, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 pm ET.
To indicate how hot these two teams have been as of late, they are 17-3 in their last combined 20 games.
For Boston, this will be the second game in as many nights as they beat the New Orleans Pelicans 125-114 on Wednesday. In the win, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for 72 points, 22 rebounds, and four assists.
Brooklyn last played on Sunday, when they beat the Miami Heat 102-101 on the road. Kyrie Irving had a game-high 29 points, to go along with six assists. Kevin Durant added 17 points and five boards.
Despite playing on the road, the Celtics are the slight favorite in this one. They are -144 to win, while the Nets’ moneyline sits at +122. The spread features Brooklyn as three-point underdogs (-112).
Celtics Trying To Prove Eastern Conference Of Domination
At 30-12, the Boston Celtics currently lead the conference by two games over the Nets. After having already beaten the Nets 103-92 earlier in the season, they will look to prove their domination over the Nets and the Eastern Conference Thursday night.
Boston currently has the second-best offense in the league, averaging 118.5 points per game (115 on the road). They are led by the dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown.
For Tatum, he leads the team in scoring, averaging 30.8 points over 36.7 minutes per night. He is also chipping in 8.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per night.
For Brown, he has averaged 26.8 points per game in 35.5 minutes per night. In addition to scoring, Brown averages 6.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.
The Celtics are also above average on defense. They rank 13th overall in scoring defense, allowing opponents 112.6 points per game.
Nets Hope To Pick Up ground
Having won nine of their last 10 games, the Nets have been on quite a roll lately. Still, with the Celtics almost equally as hot, Brooklyn has picked up just one game in the standings. As they compete for the Eastern Conference crown, they will look to pick up a game in the standings.
Playing at home, Brooklyn has been pretty dominant. While they are a solid 14-8 on the road, they have an even better home record, going 13-5 to this point.
Defensively, Brooklyn has been one of the best in the league. They rank fifth in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 110.6 points per game. On the offensive side, they rank 14th overall, averaging 114.6 points per game.
The team is led by their own superstar tandem in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. For Durant, he is averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists over 39 games this season.
Unfortunately, Durant will be out for this one as he suffered a sprained MCL and will be out for the foreseeable future.
In 30 games, Irving is averaging 26 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game.
Take Celtics To Win On The Road
Looking at the trends, the Celtics have gone 5-2 in their last seven games. It is worth noting, though, that they went just 2-5 against the spread in those games. In their last eight games against the Nets, they are undefeated straight up.
For Brooklyn, they are 14-1 in their last 15 games, and they are 9-4 against the spread in their last 13 games. In their last five games at home, they are undefeated.
Losing Kevin Durant could be a bit of a brutal blow for the Nets, especially in this game. Even though the Celtics are on the second game of a back-to-back, they are mostly healthy. Marcus Smart (knee) and Robert Williams are questionable for this one, but with both Tatum and Brown in the lineup, the Celtics will be a tough matchup for a shorthanded Nets team.
Take the Celtics to steal this one on the road. Take them straight up at -144.