Tatum Needs Big Night to Help Celtics Give Nets a Series
This series will take another turn on the ABC stage after opening up there on Saturday night. If you only watched the first half of that one, you saw Boston execute what it wanted to on the defensive end with Robert Williams and Tristan Thompson making everything tough around the rim. The Celtics won each of the first two quarters and led 53-47 at the break.
Brooklyn outscored the Celtics 57-40 to post an 11-point victory and then dominated 130-108 in Tuesday’s Game 2, scoring 40 points in the first quarter and leading 71-47 at halftime. Boston looks gassed and outclassed, working shorthanded due to the absence of second-leading scorer Jaylen Brown. Evan Fournier has been inserted into the Celtics starting lineup and untested pieces like rookie Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford and Jabari Parker are getting minutes off the bench and probably aren’t for this type of stage.
Head coach Brad Stevens is hoping that being back at TD Garden will help some of those guys settle in better and is counting on Kemba Walker to bounce back from a really tough first two games since he’s shot 10-for-27 from the field, missing seven of 10 from beyond the arc.
Full Celtics Vs. Knicks Sportsbook Odds
Star forward Jayson Tatum is 9-for-32 from the field in his own right and has struggled with the full brunt of Brooklyn’s defensive focus centered on him. Tatum is averaging just 15.5 points in the series after dropping 50 on Washington to ensure the Celtics secured the No. 7 seed last week. Tatum averaged 29.7 points and shot 44 percent from 3-point range over three regular-season games against the Nets and finished with a 26.4 scoring average for the season, tying Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell for 10th among the NBA’s points-per-game leaders.
Tatum is averaging close to 28 points per game at TD Garden if you add in his 50-burger against the Wizards last week, so the Celtics’ best hope is that he can catch fire despite the pestering of Durant and Jeff Green in order to given the offense a spark. The dream scenario for Boston is that it finds a way to steal a game that is expected to have just 25 percent capacity in Game 3 before going to near full capacity as restrictions are lifted prior Game 4.
Considering Irving is playing his first two games in Boston since his tumultuous two-year stint ended, a vocal crowd is expected to make a major difference come Sunday night. We’ll see if they’re cheering on a team that has a chance to even the series at two games apiece or merely rooting on a group looking to avoid a sweep.
The Nets are laying 7.5 points for Game 3 at BetRivers, FanDuel, DraftKings, Westgate, William Hill, and BetMGM. The total is hovering around the 227-227.5 range. If you feel the Celtics will be competitive, the high side is attractive since we’ve really only see the pace slow down early on in Game 1 as the teams felt one another out. Backing a first-half ‘over’ of 212 is advisable as the series shifts to Boston.