Boston Celtics vs San Antonio Spurs: Predictions and Odds

How to Watch

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

When: 7:00 PM EST, Monday December 31st 2018

How (TV/Radio): NBA TV, NBC Sports Boston, and KENS | 98.5 The Sports Hub

Boston Celtics

Head Coach: Brad Stevens {All-Time 241-203 | BOS}

At 20-14, the Boston Celtics are comfortably fifth place in the Eastern Conference. While they’d surely prefer to be in the top four of the East, the Boston Celtics are on the right trend to climb the ranks in the new year as they went 6-4 in their last ten.

After an unfortunate three-game losing streak to the likes of the Pistons, Suns, and Bucks, the Celtics have rebounded by getting wins over two tough squads in the Hornets and 76ers. A loss to the Rockets on the 27th set them back to begin their three-game new year’s eve road trip, but they’ll look to bounce back against the Grizzlies and the Spurs.

Kyrie Irving has been the engine for the Celtics success so far this season. He has led the team in scoring over their last three matches and with a weakened Spurs backcourt, expect him to do the same.

San Antonio Spurs

Head Coach: Gregg Popovich {All-Time | SAS}

The San Antonio Spurs rank tenth in the Western Conference, but are a mere 1.5 games back from taking seventh from the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs are cooking as of late, going 7-3 in their last ten, recently splitting a home-and-home against the Nuggets.

Of course it’s been a difficult year for the San Antonio Spurs, a team doesn’t lose players like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard and not feel the impact. Despite their losses, the Spurs have performed admirably in the incredible Popovich system to keep them in the playoff race.

The Spurs are led by LaMarcus Aldridge and Demar Derozan, two players who are premier mid-range threats at their position. When Dejounte Murray went down injured for the season, Derozan took over playmaking duties and has yet again taken another step in his career.

What’s At Stake?

An interconference matchup, the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics rarely meet over the course of a calendar year. Over 91 regular season games, the San Antonio Spurs lead the all-time series 52-39. A positive record few teams boast over the Celtics.

The Boston Celtics are 3.5 games back from the Philadelphia 76ers, a win would bring them a step closer to the top four in the East.

The West is so competitive any result could send a team plummeting or climbing. The Spurs will want a win to have an edge over the Memphis Grizzlies in the ninth spot, come the new year.

Questions to answer

Are the Celtics the Spurs of 2018?

Will the Spurs ever modernize their play?

We are going to compare the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

Brad Stevens’ Gameplan is Excellent

If Gregg Popovich was the original, then Brad Stevens has got to be the remix. While Stevens runs a similar high-post, cross-cut offence to the Spurs of old (and today) the focus for the Celtics is to find easy looks from three.

Seen through their fourth place ranking in both three-point attempts and conversions, the Celtics are a team with the athleticism to beat you inside but the skill and ball movement to defeat you from the perimeter.

What was once thought of as a bail-out shot, Brad Stevens has made the three-ball the focus of the Celtics offence. With the likes of Irving and Tatum on the roster, Stevens has capable playmakers that can initiate the offence and play in isolation should the play break down.

The Spurs are 29th in three-point attempts

When a team touts the likes of Demar Derozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, the first thought that comes to mind should not be effective three-point shooting. Shooting 18% and 15% from three respectively, both players have all but abandoned the three-point shot as a part of their game.

Where the Spurs do succeed is in manufacturing and converting on two-point shots. Ranked first in two-point attempts and third in two-pointers made, the Spurs continue to succeed in moving the ball to create easy baskets.

It generally starts with a Derozan pick-and-roll. Due to his lack of range, the Spurs have chose to use screens to manufacture open looks off of switches and from the high-post through Aldridge. It’s beautiful basketball to watch, but the distinct lack of shooting limits the Spurs’ success.

Boston Celtics Roster Notes

C Aron Baynes (hand) had surgery on a broken hand and will be reevaluated near to then of January.

G Jabari Bird (personal) is on leave from the team as he settles legal issues.

F Robert Williams (leg) did not play on Thursday’s match and is listed as day-to-day.

San Antonio Spurs Roster Notes

F-C Pau Gasol (foot) is out of his walking boot, but does not yet have a timetable for his return.

G Dejounte Murray (knee) had successful surgery to repair a torn ACL and is out for the season.

Head-to-Head: Kyrie Irving vs Demar Derozan

Kyrie Irving

23.3 PPG | 6.4 APG | 5.1 RPG | 1.6 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 2.5 TOV | .487 FG% | .411 3P%

Demar Derozan

23.3 PPG | 6.2 APG | 5.7 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 2.4 TOV | .481 FG% | .179 3P%

Demar Derozan and Kyrie Irving provide what may be an all-offence classic on New Year’s Eve. Both players are the focal point of their teams offence, despite both teams playing a rather egalitarian brand of basketball.

Demar Derozan has proven time and again that he is one of the most dangerous threats in the league from within the arc. However, his improvement this year lies in his playmaking as he is averaging a career high 6.2 assists per game.

Kyrie Irving has shown that he very much didn’t need to be in the shadow of LeBron James in the time he’s been a Celtic. Dangerous from three and on the drive, Irving is a heady point guard that needs just a split second to make the right decision for his young squad.

Boston Celtics at San Antonio Spurs Predictions and Odds

The odds will be updated as they are made available.