Two of the NBA’s fringe title contenders meet as the Boston Celtics host the Denver Nuggets in what should be a tough contest per online sports betting odds. The BetUS online sportsbook has the Nuggets as slight favorites. Boston has won two of its last three meetings against Denver.
NBA odds pegs both of these teams as top-eight title contenders although the two have not been too inspiring this season given their myriad of injuries. Boston has lost seven of its last ten games so it’s logical to lean on the Nuggets here.
Nuggets vs Celtics Betting Preview: Quick Look at Each Team
Nuggets: Jokic For MVP is No Joke
Denver has been besieged by injuries lately and maybe without forward Paul Millsap (knee) and guards Will Barton (personal) and Gary Harris (thigh) among others. But sixth-year big man Nikola Jokic has taken his game to an even higher level.
Jokic is having a career year with averages of 26.5 points, 11.5 boards, and 8.7 assists. He’s also hitting 38.1 percent of his threes. In advanced metrics, he’s averaging a whopping 29.4 percent win share per 48 minutes according to basketball reference. This is higher than the likes of LeBron James and Joel Embiid.
But as James knows too well during his early days in the league, one man can’t do it alone particularly on the defensive end. While Jokic is playing solid defense this season, the rest of the Nuggets haven’t.
Jokic is one of only two Nuggets with a positive defensive box plus-minus. Double-digit losses against elite teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and the L.A.Lakers‘ points to a concern even if analytics don’t express any fatal flaws to their overall defense.
Big Trouble in Little Boston
Once upon a time, Boston had a legitimate shot at acquiring Anthony Davis. Of course, Davis instead went to the Lakers and we know what happened to both franchises. Although Boston came within two wins of its first NBA Finals appearance in a decade, things are looking bearish for the C’s.
Boston is 13-13 and is just 1.5 games ahead of being in the play-in spot. They’ve dropped seven of their last ten. During this span, their offensive rating dropped to 24th overall and their true shooting percent (TS%) to 27th.
Most notably, the C’s rank 25th in defensive rebounding and allow the sixth-most second-chance scoring opportunities. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have combined for 51.6 points per game but the team lacks scoring help from the rest of the crew.
G Kemba Walker is having his worst season shooting just 36.3 percent from the field. Boston needs more help from the rest of its roster and it needs a big man. Bad.
Denver is Bigger
Given the many problems plaguing Boston, I’m leaning on Denver to get it done. Denver happens to have the two biggest concerns facing Boston: strong offensive play from its guards and a big man who can dominate the boards and produce.
Neither team has been too effective on the NBA betting lines, but Denver will have the best player on the court and they’re not as dysfunctional. Jokic will get his numbers, but Jamal Murray is due for a big game, especially without G Marcus Smart there to harass him.
Murray is averaging 18.5 points this season just like last year. But he has yet to hit the 40-point mark and has only scored over 30 three times.
I like Denver to exploit Boston’s offensive shortcomings and win this game comfortably.