Nets vs. Celtics Top Picks for March 3: Struggling Brooklyn Getting Too Many Points

profile image of Matthew.Jordan
Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket past Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics on February 01, 2023. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP.

NBA Pick: Nets +11 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

BetOnline logo
Nets +11 (-110)
Visit Site

Now in second place in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics look to change that Friday when they host the struggling Brooklyn Nets.

Which side of the 11-point spread has the best value at the best sportsbooks? We also have a total play for your NBA picks

Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics 

Friday, March 03, 2023 – 07:30 PM EST at TD Garden 

What You Should Know

The first game of an NBA doubleheader on Friday features Brooklyn visiting Boston, followed by Memphis at Denver, which I also will preview here at BMR. ESPN executives probably were expecting a rating bonanza for Nets-Celtics not all that long ago when Brooklyn still had Kevin Durant and former Celtic Kyrie Irving, but now it looks like a mismatch. 

This will wrap up the season series, although they could potentially meet in the playoffs. Boston will be either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the East, so if the Nets are in the play-in tournament, which I expect, and get through that they could face the C’s in the first round depending on how the bracket shakes out. 

Boston looks for the four-game sweep and won each of the first three by double digits. When they last played on Feb. 1 at TD Garden, it was a 139-96 shredding. That game was over after a quarter with the C’s up 46-16. It was Boston’s largest margin of victory this season and one of the biggest in the NBA.

Irving was still around then for Brooklyn but Durant was out. The Nets started just 2 of 14 from the field and were down 33-7 almost immediately. The Celtics are 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. 

Are Nets Falling Apart? 

At some point, trading away Irving and Durant was obviously going to catch up to the Nets even if they did get some pretty good NBA players back for both. The team played pretty well immediately after those deals but is in major free-fall on a four-game skid – three of the four losses by at least 14 points. 

The Nets were obliterated by the red-hot Knicks on Wednesday, 142-118. The defense has been non-existent during this four-game stretch with Brooklyn allowing 130.0 ppg despite now having one of the league’s better defensive players in Mikal Bridges, part of the Durant package from Phoenix. 

One bright spot from Wednesday: No Nets players saw heavy minutes. Cam Johnson, also acquired in the Durant trade, had a season-high 33 points, Bridges 21 (fifth time in seven games with Brooklyn scoring at least 20), and Nic Claxton 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Knicks made nearly 80% of their shots in a 47-point first quarter, and that was pretty much that.  

Injury-wise, the Nets are listing Ben Simmons, Edmond Sumner, and Yuta Watanabe as out for Friday. They all missed the Knicks game (or more as well). The latter two don’t play much when healthy (Watanabe actually would lead the NBA in three-point percentage if he qualified), and Simmons frankly stinks nowadays offensively but does play good defense.

Including playoffs, the Nets have lost 10 in a row vs. Boston but haven’t been swept in a regular-season series since the 2017-18 season. Yeah, that’s in jeopardy. The Nets have compiled an 8-2 record on Fridays this season, their best record on any day of the week. 

Look, the Nets aren’t winning here, but I expect them to play up to their level of competition.  

  • Nets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Friday games. 
  • Nets are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600. 
  • Nets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss. 
  • Over is 5-1-1 in the Nets’ last 7 road games. 

Celtics Now Chasing Bucks 

The race for the top seed is on! That looked over a few weeks ago as Boston has a comfortable lead, but the Milwaukee Bucks are playing at a supernova level right now on a 16-game winning streak and have taken the East lead by a half-game. I absolutely think it’s vital to earn the top seed as I’d personally pick whichever team had a home-court advantage in the East Finals to advance.  

The NBA odds still favor Boston at -130 to get it with Milwaukee at +105. If you are wondering, the teams have split the first two meetings and conclude the season series on March 30 in Beer Town. Circle that game.

I often will bet a moneyline instead of a spread, so I don’t get bitten by a bad beat. I previewed here at BMR Boston’s game at home vs. Cleveland on Wednesday and backed the C’s at -5.

That looked like easy money with them up 113-102 with less than a minute left, yet the Cavs hit a few garbage-time shots, including a 30-foot three-pointer with 12 seconds left, to only lose by four. Frustrating! Obviously, no value playing the moneyline here but consider it around -200 or lower going forward. 

Tatum’s Comeback

We did tell you we expected a big bounce-back game for Jayson Tatum on Wednesday after he struggled Monday against the Knicks and was ejected for the first time in his career. Tatum had 41 points vs. the Cavs along with 11 rebounds and eight assists.  

He needed 39 points to move into the Top 7 on the NBA’s all-time under-25 scoring list as Tatum’s 25th birthday is Friday. Only six players will remain above Tatum’s pre-25 scoring mark of 9,429 points. LeBron James holds the mark with 13,927.

Also, consider that LeBron skipped college and Tatum didn’t. He also became the third player in Celtics history with 20 career 40-point games, joining Larry Bird (47) and Paul Pierce (21). Tatum has scored at least 40 points in nine games this season for the fifth-most such games in the NBA.  

Other Players’ Return

Jaylen Brown returned after missing Monday but was a bit off in shooting 6-of-15 for 16 points. He’s still averaging 24.1 ppg in his past 10. Al Horford had arguably his best game of the season with a season-best 23 points on an 8-for-10 shooting, including 6-for-8 from deep. Horford had not reached the 20-point mark since Jan. 19. Those rebounds marked Horford’s highest number since also grabbing 11 against the Spurs on Jan. 7. 

The Celtics won despite their bench combining to score only 12 points. Sixth Man of the Year favorite Malcolm Brogdon had two points in 23 minutes and Derrick White had four points in 25.  

Final Picks

Boston isn’t listing anyone of note on the injury report for this one, but it feels like a slight trap with a potential payback game against the Knicks – New York thumped Boston on Monday. We noted above that the Nets have been terrible defensively of late, so over is definitely the total play. 

  • Over is 4-0 in Celtics’ last 4 home games. 
  • Over is 6-2 in Celtics’ last 8 overall. 
  • Over is 5-2 in Celtics’ last 7 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. 

For Brooklyn fans looking to bet on this game, you can check out our top New York betting sites.

NBA Pick: Nets +11 (-110) at BetOnline

NBA Pick: Over 226.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

Heritage Sports logo
Over 226.5 (-108)
Visit Site

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.