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NBA Preview: 3rd February

TIME to look forward to another busy day in the NBA as we cast our eyes over the best value on offer for today’s slate.

Here’s a look at today’s best bet;

Charlotte Hornets @ Boston Celtics

Boston welcomes the Charlotte Hornets back to the TD Garden as they look to build off a two-game win streak and an impressive turn of form.

The Celtics have struggled this season and it has been well documented.  The Coaching change to Ime Udoka hasn’t quite been the sea change they had hoped for, and their results have been mixed ranging from brilliant to disgraceful.

Part of the Celtics struggles has been consistency and availability. There is a huge disparity between the talent of their starting five and their bench units.  Over the past couple of weeks however, Boston has been able to play their preferred starting five and the results and advanced statistics all point to the Celtics very much being a play on team, if healthy.

The five man lineup of Smart, Brown, Tatum, Horford Williams has been elite, owning a +27 point differential with 117/90 offensive/Defensive rating – it seems we are finally seeing what this squad is capable of and it spells trouble to their opponents.

Removing a single player from their starting lineup causes huge concerns for this team and their lack of depth is truly exposed. We saw an example of this the last time these two sides met.  Without Rob Williams, Boston is far less effective on the boards and their rim protection take a huge hit.  Charlotte was able to capitalize on this and coupled with their bench combing for 35 points they were able to squeak a win. But with their starting five fully fit an available, the Celtics should be staunch defensively and starve this hit or miss offence of regular points and create an advantage over their opponents.

One of Boston’s biggest (ongoing) weaknesses is their ability to attack against a competent half court defence and in particular zone. It’s an issue that has continuously haunted them since the Miami Heat deployed it in the bubble and exposed this team.  In this matchup there shouldn’t be any dramas offensively.  Charlotte rate 23rd in the league in points per possessions allowed in half court settings and are in the bottom three teams for “wide open” three point attempts and makes allowed.   The Celtics are starting to build something (finally) and we will see it on full display against a lesser conference opponent.

While their struggles offensively have been well documented, their defence is and should be elite.  Every part of their five man starting line up is either currently or previously passable for All NBA defence. They can switch effortlessly and have elite rim protection in Rob Williams.

Charlotte has one of the top-rated offences this season, but it has been significantly less effective against competent defensive units.  When playing sides rated top ten in defence their scoring drops five points per 100 possessions to around league average. The Hornets are 7-12 in these matchups and have been exposed without the ball.

My power rankings have this line set at 5 which isn’t a huge edge by any means but I love the stylistic matchup advantages that Boston has in this game.  The Celtics get a strong home win against some familiar opponents and make a big push into All Star weekend.

Our best bet: Boston Celtics -6.0 $1.92 at PlayUp


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