Brooklyn Nets @ Boston Celtics
Date: Sunday, December 31, 2017, 5:30 PM ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
TV: YES Network, NBCSB
A Sham of a Rock
The Boston Celtics have cooled off considerably from their hot start. In fact, six of their ten losses have come in the month of December. The Celtics have been good shooting long threes, but they have been below average from inside 14 feet. So the Nets should be trying to chase the Celtics off the above the break three and forcing them more towards the painted area. Furthermore, Al Horford’s shot has fallen off over the last couple of weeks. Therefore, forcing him to shoot, rather than set up a teammate might also be a strategy that pays off.
The Celtics have been terrific containing the middle of the floor this season. They have also been elite guarding the long three, but they have been exposed on the corners. They have allowed their opponents to shoot 41.9% from the left corner and 46.4% from the right corner. It might be best to keep Crabbe on the corners and kick it out to him when the Celtics clamp down on other players.
Not Very Smart
Marcus Smart may be a good defender, but he’s a lousy shooter. Smart is bad from the mid-range and super bad from in close. Whether it’s Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, or Caris LeVert guarding him they should be trying to get under Smart’s skin to force him to attack the basket. Since Smart has all the confidence in the world it’s unlikely he will back down. Marcus’s go-to move is the flop. Let’s see how many times the officials buy into his nonsense because that’s pretty much all he has going for him on the offensive side of the ball.
It isn’t impossible for the Nets to steal this game. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been hot scoring in double figures in each of his last six games. He is a fabulous defender and will have the task of embarrassing rookie sensation Jayson Tatum. You know who else is scoring in double figures? Caris LeVert. He’s been in the money for seven straight games now.
LeVert struggled with his shot earlier in the season, but that now looks like an issue of the past. Additionally, LeVert is becoming a very good playmaker. If he can find Allen Crabbe in the corner the Celtics might find there way trying to battle out of a dogfight. It’s time to make the Celtics pay for stealing all the Nets draft picks and end the calendar year with a bang.
The Celtics hold the all-time record between the teams having won 124 of their 189 matches. This season the Atlantic Division rivals played once prior with the Celtics eeking out a 109-102 win.
The oddsmakers favor the hometown Celtics by 10 points and predict an over-under of 209.5 points.