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Celtics vs. Thunder Predictions: Two of the NBA’s Best Clash

Written by: Grant Mitchell
Published January 2, 2024
10 min read

The Boston Celtics (26-6) are taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-9) Tuesday in a matchup between top-two seeds from opposite conferences.

The C’s are the odds-on NBA Finals favorites and won 11 of their last 12 games, though they’re only 10-6 on the road. The Thunder, meanwhile, won seven of eight and are trying to prove that they’re more than a team that arrived ahead of schedule, and are instead a bonafide championship contender. 

Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Celtics vs. Thunder matchup on Tuesday evening.

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Celtics vs Thunder Predictions

Celtics vs. Thunder Betting Odds for Tuesday, Jan. 2

The Celtics are 3.5-point favorites on the road in the first of two meetings between these two opponents.

Boston Celtics-3.5 (-110)-165Over 240.5 (-110)
Oklahoma City Thunder+3.5 (-110)+135Under 240.5 (-110)

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The Celtics are overwhelmingly dominant in nearly every major category, whether that be offense, defense, or rebounding. They also have the league’s individual leader in net rating (Derrick White) leading a group of role players, plus the league’s third-best bench (+3.7 net rating).

The key to Boston’s offensive success is their ability to get up three-point shots. Although they can fall in love with contested shots, they take and make more triples than any team in the league, leading to them boasting the second-best offensive rating.

Teams have found mild success hounding the three-point line and allowing Jayson Tatum, Jalyen Brown, and the other ball-handlers to go one-on-one and attack the rim if they choose to. This led to them taking 44 threes per game (more than their season average of 42.9) while shooting just 29.5% in their six losses.

If there is one area of concern to point to for the Celtics, it is their late-game execution. They fall from 10th to 19th in assist-to-turnover ratio and dead last in pace during clutch situations (game within five points during the final five minutes). They also shoot 33.3% from beyond the arc during this time, 4.1 percent worse than their overall average.

Boston faced issues on the road earlier in the year but beat the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Lakers away from home within the last two weeks. They also have the third-best road net rating and are fully healthy heading into Tuesday’s showdown.

The Thunder put the league on notice last year by making the Play-In Tournament, but even the strongest of believers would have struggled to believe they’d play such elite basketball with their young and inexperienced roster.

OKC is third in net rating and excels defensively, whether that be points in the paint allowed (second), fastbreak points allowed (second), three-point defense (10th in percentage), or overall defensive rating (second). They’re also second in combined steals and blocks per game, trailing only the Philadelphia 76ers.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is arguably the most impactful two-way player in the league. He’s third in scoring (31.2 points per night) and leads the league in steals (2.6 per game) while shooting a very efficient 54.6% from the field.

The Thunder are also great in the reserves (second in bench net rating) and can put away teams late in games. Their primary area of concern is on the glass since they’re only 29th in rebound rate. 

Their lack of size allows them to switch multiple positions defensively but also gives them reason to consider exploring a trade for more size, especially since defensive rebounding becomes more important during the postseason. 

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Celtics vs. Thunder Prediction and Betting Pick

This game is tough to call. Boston and OKC are at or near the top in a ton of different metrics, have no rivalry factor, are both healthy and rarely see one another.

As great as the Thunder have been at home (13-5), the C’s ripped off a few impressive road victories recently and are playing excellent basketball. But at the same time, OKC is also on a winning streak and is 8-1 against the Eastern Conference.

This is going to be a high-level matchup between two of the best in the Association. But since the Thunder shoot the three ball better than anyone (39.1%) and play excellent defense, we like them with the points at home.

How to Watch Celtics vs. Thunder

  • When: Tuesday, Jan. 2 @ 7:00/8:00 p.m. CT/ET

  • Where: Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, OK

  • TV: NBA League Pass

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Grant Mitchell

397 Articles

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.

In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.

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