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The Boston Celtics (20-5) are hitting the road for a rematch of the 2021-22 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors (12-14) on Tuesday.
The Celtics are tied for the best record in basketball but are only 6-5 on the road compared to 14-0 at home. The Warriors, meanwhile, are in one of their worst stretches during their modern dynasty but started to turn their season around with back-to-back wins.
Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Celtics vs. Warriors showdown.
The Celtics are favored by 5.5 points on the road. They split their two-game regular-season season last year, one year after the Warriors took them down 4-2 to win the championship.
|Over 231.5 (-110)
|Golden State Warriors
|Under 231.5 (-110)
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The Celtics entered the season as one of the top favorites to win the NBA Finals. They’ve lived up to the hype thus far, tying the Minnesota Timberwolves for the best record in the league and leading the Milwaukee Bucks by a game and a half in the Eastern Conference.
The C’s are also playing some of their best basketball of the young season. They won five straight games and just took down the impressive Orlando Magic in back-to-back contests by 17 points in each instance.
Boston’s biggest asset is its versatility. All five of their starters are capable of demanding attention on the interior, usually through dribble drives, which leads to easy looks at the rim or kick-outs to open three-point shooters. As proof, they rank sixth in offensive rating and are second in three-pointers made per game.
Jayson Tatum leads the way with 27.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. The starting five averages 91.8 (78.1%) of their 117.6 points, which is the largest share of points by a starting unit in the league.
Even though Boston’s starters (Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kristaps Porzingis) are all good-to-excellent defenders, they only rank 21st in defensive rating amongst starters.
Interestingly, their bench—which does not have any renowned individual defenders—is fifth in defensive rating amongst all benched.
On top of all that, the Celtics are one of the best rebounding teams in the league and do a nice job of limiting opponents’ second-chance opportunities. Three of their five losses have also come by five or fewer points.
Compare that to the Warriors, who are going through an identity crisis. Steve Kerr recently made the controversial (but not misguided) decision to bench Andrew Wiggins, their second-best player during their championship run against Boston, in favor of rookie Brandin Podziemski.
Kerr was also recently forced to start 21-year-old Jonathan Kuminga in light of Draymond Green’s indefinite suspension for striking Jusuf Nurkic during a game last week.
Steph Curry has been his usual brilliant self nearly all season. Although he snapped his 268-game streak of making at least one three-pointer his last time out, he is having an MVP-worthy season and averaging 28 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists.
Klay Thompson (along with Wiggins) has fulfilled his obligations as the second half of the Splash Brothers. He has a lowly average of 16.8 points and 3.9 rebounds on 37.4% three-point shooting, the lowest of his career.
That said, Klay showed signs of life near the end of last week. He averaged 27.3 points on 54.8% three-point shooting in three games (two wins), including 28 points in 29 minutes in Sunday’s win against the Trail Blazers.
Despite the mini-resurgence, the Dubs are only 15th in three-point percentage. They’re also 16th in both offensive and defensive rating and rely heavily on their ability to crash the boards as a small team to earn second cracks at the rim.
The word that defines this matchup is consistency. The Celtics know roughly what to expect from their players and their units every night, while the Warriors, short of Curry and Klay for three games, don’t seem to know what they’re going to get and where it’s going to come from.
One thing we’re yet to mention is the Celtics’ net rating of 9.0 drops to 0.8 when they’re on the road. The Warriors, despite their many struggles, are 6-6 at home but have a net rating of -1.4 in the Chase Center.
Green’s absence means that the Warriors will not be able to switch as many actions involving the taller wings and big men and will also have to spread the Celtics out on offense. That works in Boston’s favor since they’re willing to switch everything and target mismatches whenever they have the ball.
Golden State has also proven to be one of the most turnover-prone teams in the league. Even with Chris Paul due for a longer run in the team, this is shaping up to be a lopsided win for the visitors.
Celtics vs. Warriors pick: Celtics -5.5 at BetMGM
When: Tuesday, Dec. 19 @ 7:00/10:00 p.m. PT/ET
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
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.More info on Grant Mitchell
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