NBA Picks: Is There Value On Betting Brad Stevens’ Celtics At Home Early In Season?

Ready or not, here come the C's

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Where does all the time go?

Seventy-two days ago, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy inside the Orlando bubble. Amazingly enough, the 2020-21 season is here and the Boston Celtics begin their newest campaign Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bookmakers currently are dealing Boston as a 3.5-point home underdog with a point total of 225.5.

The Celtics made you some serious cheddar last year as a ‘dog, covering 18 of 24 games when catching points. They were a perfect 4-0 as a home underdog. Naturally, I’m drawn to taking the points with Brad Stevens when a situation like this arises.

“That’s definitely built into the line,” one Vegas bookmaker told NESN. “We respect how well they’ve defended home court under Stevens lately. That’s a well-coached team that doesn’t beat themselves. Night in and night out, they’re tough to play in the regular season.”

FanDuel Sportsbook has the Celtics’ regular-season win total at 44.5 right now with -122 juice to the under for this year’s 72-game NBA season. Seven of my colleagues made their season predictions and all but two have Boston winning less than 44.

I guess I’m higher on the C’s than most. I’ve got them winning 47 or 48 games behind a team that will be better defensively with Tristan Thompson and Marcus Smart making life difficult for opposing offenses. Thompson is an incredible rebounder who will bring much-needed toughness to the paint.

And of course, I’m banking on more freedom and growth for Boston’s two blossoming Dobermans — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Stevens will rely heavily on his two youngsters with Kemba Walker still rehabbing a left knee injury. Throwing Tatum and Brown into the fire right away isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Maybe they hit the ground running and serve as a jolt to a team that’s battled chemistry issues over the last few seasons with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Irving has been gone while Hayward and his hair gel left town last month in a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hayward experiment never really got off the ground in Boston as he continuously battled injuries and high expectations. He made over $32 million last year to score 17.5 points per game.

That’s the good life.

For those of you wondering, there’s also a betting line up for Christmas Day when the Celtics host Irving, Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. That spread opened at a pick ‘em, but Brooklyn has already been bet up to -2 at some shops. Clearly, some bettors are convinced by Brooklyn’s 125-99 bashing of Golden State on opening night.

So how about some picks?

Bucks (-3.5, 225.5) at Celtics

Celtics +3.5 (-110)
Jayson Tatum O26.5 points (+100)

I’ll bite the bullet with Boston catching points on its home floor. They’ll be a better basketball team near the end of the season when everybody (hopefully) is healthy, but they’re still live in the opener against Milwaukee. I like Tatum to score more than 26.5 points too. He eased into the preseason by playing just 22 and 26 minutes in two games, but I expect him to play 30-plus and take at least 20 shots. The shooting volume will definitely be there and if he’s aggressively attacking the basket, free throws will only help the case.

RECORD: (3-1, +1.9)

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