These factors make Celtics the pick over Nets

Action Network’s NBA analyst Raheem Palmer makes his picks for two of the first-round series that begin Sunday.

Nets vs Celtics

Celtics Winning Streak (-130, DraftKings)

Betting against Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a seven-game series is never easy, but based on the numbers, I have to.

My first reaction to the Celtics -110/Nets -120 opening line was to recreate Johnnie Cochran’s Chewbacca defense in “South Park”: To be blunt, it doesn’t make sense.

My power ratings have the Celtics as the best team in the league (even better than the Suns) based primarily on their defense, which ranks first in the NBA and only 106.9 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes allowed. The Celtics are the more complete team, and if they’re able to take the efficiency of Durant and Irving just a little bit, they should win this series.

The Celtics offense can be inconsistent at times, but they’re still 10th in offensive standings in their minutes with no garbage time, and the Nets probably won’t slow this team down as they’re only 21st in defensive standings, they’re 22nd in Turnover rate and dead-last in defensive rebound rate, showing an inability to end possession even when getting a stop.

When you’re betting on the Nets, you’re essentially betting that Durant and Irving’s shotmaking can overcome any of their other problems that might happen, but they have to endure extremely heavy workloads. In the play-in game against the Cavaliers, the Nets narrowly survived the non-Durant minutes.

That being said, I think Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart are ready to take the leap to becoming the crème de la crème of the Eastern Conference. Tatum’s 54-point game against the Nets in March showed he can be the best player of the series.

Boston is a team that made the Eastern Conference Finals in three of four seasons before suffering a poor year with a first-round elimination by the Nets in 2021.

To quote James Brown… for the Celtics, this is The Big Payback.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dives against Kyrie Irving on March 31, 2022.
Giannis Antetokounmpo dives against Kyrie Irving on March 31, 2022.
Getty Images

Dollars vs Bulls

Bucks Series Spread -2.5 games
(-175); Bucks win in 4 games (+250, PointsBet)

Remember the last time the Bulls beat the Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup? It was December 26, 2017. The Bucks have defeated the Bulls in 16 of their last 17 encounters, with the only win coming on May 16, the last day of the regular season last year, in a game where the Bucks their bench on the bench put appetizers.

Mike Budenholzer also owned the Central Division as a whole during his tenure with the Bucks and coached his team to a 50-8 record. While the Bulls are a different team this season, it speaks to the dominance the Bucks have shown in this matchup. In four games against the Bulls that season, the Bucks won all by an average margin of 14.7 points.

At best, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine can get hot and steal a game, but I’m struggling to see the Bulls win as they have no answers on this Bucks offense. I’ll back the Bucks -2.5 games and sweep too. These factors make Celtics the pick over Nets


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