The second-seeded Boston Celtics will take on the seventh-seeded Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA playoffs with the best-of-seven series starting Sunday.
It should make for an incredibly entertaining Eastern Conference series all while giving sports bettors a place to run given the must-watch nature of the series. Boston, after opening as the underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook, now is the favorite essentially everywhere.
And with that, here are three trends to know before placing your Celtics-Nets wagers:
Fade Brooklyn against the spread as home favorite
The Nets enter the series having covered the spread in nearly 40% of their total games (32-49-2), but that’s a product of drastically different home-road splits. Brooklyn is the league’s worst covering team as a home favorite at 5-27-1 — a rather hilarious 15.6% coverage rate. The Nets were 9-32-1 ATS (22%) at home on the season and 23-17-1 ATS on the road (58%). Some will point to the fact that Kyrie Irving wasn’t available at Barclays Center for the vast majority of the season, and while that’s true, oddsmakers took that into consideration when calculating the spread.
Irving’s single-game absences were well known. Additionally, Irving played the last six home games of the regular season as Brooklyn continued to record ATS losses — the Nets are 3-24 in its last 27 homes games. Irving was also on the floor when the Nets failed to cover the nine-point spread against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Play-In Tournament. It’s unlikely there will be many large spreads no matter where games are played in this series, but betting Brooklyn ATS as a home favorite at this point goes against common sense.
Celtics are among NBA’s best as moneyline favorite
Unlike other matchups in the NBA playoffs (Bucks-Bulls, specifically), individual games between the Nets and Celtics likely won’t feature massive differences in regards to the moneyline prices. But that actually may benefit those who believe in Boston. The Celtics have the fourth-most wins in the NBA when they enter the game as the moneyline favorite. Boston is 45-16 (74%) when it enters the game as the favorite with only the Phoenix Suns (57-13), Utah Jazz (48-25) and Milwaukee Bucks (46-20) having recorded more wins as the moneyline favorite, according to SportRadar. Brooklyn, of note, is 34-21 in games where it entered as the favorite. Boston, now a four-point favorite, currently is -170 on the moneyline entering Game 1 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Splits indicate toss up on the total
Betting the total in this series could be a bit tricky. On the surface, the Celtics have the advantage of facing a Brooklyn club that doesn’t lock teams down — Nets rank 20th of the 30 NBA teams in defensive rating. With that, it feels like an opportunity for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the unselfish Celtics to score plenty. Meanwhile, the Celtics have showcased the ability to lock good offensive teams down en route to featuring the league’s best defense but they allowed 120 points to Brooklyn the only time they faced Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together. So maybe points aren’t at a premium after all?
The betting statistics of both teams don’t offer much in either direction. Boston has cashed on the Over in 50.6% of its games (41-40-1) while that includes eight of the past 10. Those home-road splits aren’t all that helpful either with the C’s cashing the Over in 49% of home games and 53% of road games. The Nets, similarly, have cashed the Over in 48.8% of their own games (40-42-1) but just three times in the last 10. The home-road splits for Brooklyn may be viewed as a bit more helpful with the Over cashing in 43% of home games and 55% of away games. Nevertheless, good luck picking against the line.
Celtics-Nets Game 1 will tip off at TD Garden on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.