Boston Celtics (41-9) PK, 208 at Denver Nuggets (32-20), 9 pm Eastern Tuesday
by Zman of Predictem.com
The best team in the league through the first half of the NBA season begins its second half with one of the toughest stretches on its schedule when the Boston Celtics head west for a visit with the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night.
Most NBA Sportsbooks initially listed Denver as about a 3-point home favorite for Tuesday’s game, with a total of 208. But when the status of several Celtics, including F Kevin Garnett, were upgraded, the line dropped quickly to a pick ’em.
Boston, winners of five straight games, leads the Atlantic Division by 13 games over the second-place Toronto Raptors, and sits atop the Eastern Conference standings, three games ahead of the Detroit Pistons. But the Celtics are beginning the post-All-Star break with a five-game road trip through parts of the Western Conference, starting Tuesday in Denver. However, Boston is a perfect 16-0 vs. the West this season.
The Nuggets, winners of six of their last eight games and nine of their last ten at home, are perched in second place in the Northwest Division, just a game and a half back of the first-place Utah Jazz. Denver is also involved in a dog fight for one of the last playoff spots in the West. The Nuggets are tied with the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets for the 7-8-9 slots, with identical records of 32-20.
Garnett hasn’t played in nearly a month after straining an ab, and he missed the All-Star game Sunday. But Boston managed to go 7-2 without the Big Ticket, and he’s listed as probable for Tuesday’s game.
BET ON BASKETBALL AT REDUCED VIG -105 AT 5
These two teams hooked up in the first week of this season, when the Celtics were just getting rolling. And they rolled over Denver that November night in Boston, grabbing a 77-38 halftime lead and shooting a ridiculous 64% from the field on their way to a 119-93 victory. The game also managed to go over its total of 202.
These two teams split their two meetings last season. But the Celtics played both those games without KG or Ray Allen, who were on other teams at the time, and the Nuggets played one of those games without Allen Iverson and the other without Carmelo Anthony.
This season, Boston is a profitable 31-17 against the spread, and 18-5 straight up and 15-7 vs. the numbers on the road.
Denver is 26-25 ATS this season, 21-6 SU and 15-11 vs. the numbers at home.
Statistically speaking, the Celtics lead the league in point differential at +10.4 per game, in scoring defense at 89 ppg and in FG defense at 42%.
The Nuggets rank 12th in the league in point differential at +2.8 per game, and 4th in scoring at 107 ppg.
Boston is shooting 47% from the floor as a team this season, 38% from 3-point range and 77% from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, Denver is shooting 45% from the field, 34% from long range and 76% from the line.
Also, while the Celts rank 5th in the league in rebounding at +2.5 boards per game, the Nugs rank 21st at -1.0 per game.
Even with Garnett’s expected return, Boston is a bit banged up, with both F Glen Davis (quad) and C Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) battling injuries. But all three are listed as probable for Tuesday’s game.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Boston #1 at 99.0, the Nuggets #12 at 92.1. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.0.
The o/u is 23-26 in Celtics games this season, which are averaging 189 total points, while the totals are 27-24 in Denver games, which are averaging 211 points.
Zman’s Pick: Take Denver at what is now a pickem.