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Celtics Look to Withstand Heat of Suns

Boston Concludes Five-Game Trek Against Surging Phoenix

The Boston Celtics stumble into the Footprint Center to finish their brutal West Coast road trip that has seen them lose three of the four games thus far. So it comes as no surprise that they are 4½-point underdogs per Las Vegas’ NBA odds against the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns (20-4) are the NBA’s second-best team and have won 19 of 20 overall, but have struggled on the spread with three straight losses and eight of their last 12. Phoenix should be able to beat the Celtics (13-13), but the points may be in favor of Boston this Friday.

Boston Celtics vs Phoenix Suns Week 8 2021
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images/AFP

NBA Odds Preview

Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

  • Point Spread: Boston +4½ (-110)
  • Moneyline: Boston +165, Phoenix -190
  • Total: Over/Under 214½

Celtics: Man on Fire

It’s been a tough stretch for Boston despite the best efforts of franchise player Jayson Tatum. The inconsistent superstar has put on a scoring tear on Boston’s current road trip and is averaging 32.8 points with a 512/419/889 shooting split. Add 8.5 boards and 3.3 threes and we have a fantasy monster.

But in real basketball, Tatum’s efforts feel like “empty calories” as Boston still lost most of these games. The Celtics put up the second-best offensive rating at the expense of their defense, which plummeted to third-last.

Tatum, for all his talents, has been subpar on defense and still can’t elevate his teammates’ play, as seen against the Los Angeles Lakers. Boston has been, overall, a top-10 defense, but if it can’t find the balance between efficient scoring and persistent defending, it will be tough to bet online even as underdogs.

Suns: Bad Beatin’

The Suns don’t care about your tickets. No sir. Outside of a three-game stretch where Phoenix covered, including against Golden State, the Suns have flamed out of the point spread in dramatic fashion. Check some of their recent games:

  • Beats Detroit by nine; spread was 11½
  • Beats Cleveland by five; spread was seven
  • Beats San Antonio by four; spread was 5½
  • Beats Dallas by eight; spread was 8½
  • Beats Dallas by seven; spread was eight
  • Beats Minnesota by three; spread was four


This is quite impressive to lose so many spreads by less than a field goal and with half of those happening at home. Maybe it’s just bad luck as Phoenix has generally been in control for the most part.

Phoenix has the fourth-best net rating at home while allowing the fifth-lowest field goal percentage from opponents. The Suns also have the best fourth-quarter offense. But their third quarter tends to be where they screw the pooch, so buyers beware.

Betting Pick

We’ve deducted that Phoenix has a bad habit of blowing spreads. But how good is Boston at covering on its end? Boston is actually 9-7 against the spread (ATS) on the road. They Celtics covered half of their last six road games, making them a more reliable take on the BetUS online sportsbook.

The Celtics are also 12-5 ATS against Pacific Division opponents dating to last season. This team can get hot and play lock-down defense. If they go with one of the two, they should be able to give Phoenix, which takes quarters off, a run for its money.

Pick: Boston Celtics +4½

Bonus Pick

Coinciding with Boston’s hot scoring lately, the over has hit in three of its last four. With Phoenix, its no-nonsense defense has been responsible for four of the last five going under. But nearing the end of their road trip, the Celticcs may just look to score as Phoenix allows nearly 108 points in its last eight.

Pick: Total – Over 214½

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