The Brooklyn Nets are in a deep hole after dropping their first two games to the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden. Sure, Kevin Durant and Co. have remained competitive throughout both contests, but ultimately, they’ve failed to overcome any and all adversity that’s come their way.
Now, with pride on the line, Brooklyn heads home and NBA bettors must gauge what’s in store in Games 3 (Saturday) and 4 (Monday).
The hope for Nets fans is that, without the TD Garden crowd behind them, the Celtics lose a sprinkling of combativeness, and waver under pressure. And while that is potentially true, it’s certainly a long shot. That, plus the fact the Nets have not fared well at home for bettors.
What’s Changing in This Series
Future results are uncertain, but changes in this series are guaranteed. So, on Friday, we finally got news of what one of those changes will be.
Robert Williams, who has missed the first two games for the Celtics with a meniscus tear, is set to return in Game 3, albeit under minutes restriction. If the Celtics’ big man makes it through the game unscathed, he should be released for longer duty in Game 4.
Williams is arguably the best rim protector in the NBA and completes Boston’s league-leading defensive unit. The Louisiana native’s ability to operate in a free-safety role allows him to be a live wire on the defensive end. For a Nets team that’s already struggling for offensive consistency, the return of Williams could be terrible news.
However, Brooklyn has its own wild card. The Nets finally have confirmed that Ben Simmons is set to make his season debut for Game 4. Simmons, acquired in a trade from Philadelphia on Feb. 10, hasn’t played competitive basketball in almost 12 months, so there’s no telling what level of impact he’s going to have on the series.
Still, Simmons is an elite defensive talent, especially at the point of attack, and his presence within Brooklyn’s rotation will go a long way to limiting Boston’s drive-and-kick game. Simmons likely will be on a minute srestriction when he returns.
Simmons also is an outstanding playmaker, and the Nets’ sharpshooters can be certain of far better service when he is on the floor — assuming Nets head coach Steve Nash entrusts him with the ball in his hands.
The return of the two defensive standouts could have an impact on the Over/Under total in New York sports betting.
What to Expect
At this juncture of the series, it’s become obvious that Nash’s options in terms of rotations and defensive schemes are limited. Frankly, the Nets are a top-heavy team. Beyond Durant, Kyrie Irving and now Simmons, the team’s rotations are all geared toward high-octane offense. Brooklyn wants to win games by outscoring its opponent.
Unfortunately for the Nets, the Celtics are the best defensive team in the NBA and take pride in their ability to shut down star scorers, as they have with Durant in the first two games. Now, it’s worth noting that Durant can’t be kept quiet forever, and eventually he’s going to heat up. But Boston’s plan is simple: Contain Durant and Irving and force everybody else to beat you, which is highly unlikely.
Brooklyn’s best hope is that Simmons comes back and nullifies the threat posed by Jayson Tatum. Tatum has been controlling the game for the Celtics over the first two games and his passing is carving open a porous Nets defense. But let’s be real here: Asking a player who hasn’t played in almost a year to shut down one of the league’s best players doesn’t seem like a decision that’s conducive to winning.
Still, Nash has to try something, right?
Checking the Odds
Despite Boston being up 2-0 in the series and totally outhustling the Brooklyn defense in the clutch of Game 2, oddsmakers have Brooklyn as a slight favorite heading into Saturday night. According to DraftKings Sportsbook New York, the Nets are -110 to cover a -3 spread and you can get moneyline odds of -155.
If you want to favor the Celtics in Game 3, you can get a +3 spread for -110 or take them on the moneyline for +135. It seems odd that Boston is getting its primary rim protector back on limited minutes and still is seen as the underdog, but such is life.
If you prefer to zoom out and look at the entire series, you can get -400 odds on Boston coming out as the eventual winners, while the Nets are still good value at +300. Of course, if the Celtics manage to split the next two games and take a 3-1 lead back to Boston, the series will be all but over. If Brooklyn can take care of business on its home floor, then this series is still wide open.
Also, check out EmpireStakes.com for updates and the best New York sports betting promo codes.
EmpireStakes.com Prediction: Boston wins Game 3, loses Game 4 and takes a commanding 3-1 lead back to the TD Garden and close the series in five games.