Jayson Tatum celebrates, Boston Celtics

Apr 20, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) is congratulated by teammates during the third quarter of game two of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Boston Celtics face the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Saturday night
  • Boston is 3.5-point underdogs despite carrying a 2-0 series lead
  • Read below for the latest Celtics vs Nets odds and our pick

Game 3 of the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets’ first round series takes place on Saturday. Brooklyn is favored by 3.5 in what is a must-win for the home team.

A thrilling buzzer-beating win from the Celtics in Game 1 was followed by a seven-point victory in Game 2. Jayson Tatum exhibited his all-round skill with some lockdown defense and 10 assists in the second game, following his game-winner in the opener. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving combined to go eight-for-30 from the field in Game 2, and Boston now welcomes back Defensive Player of the Year candidate Robert Williams.

Celtics vs Nets Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total Points
Boston Celtics +3.5 (-110) +138 Over 223 (-110)
Brooklyn Nets -3.5 (-110) -164 Under 223 (-110)

Odds as of Apr 22 at FanDuel Sportsbook

The Celtics put in a stellar two-way performance in Game 2, but that’s not enough to earn favorites status from New York online sportsbooks as the series heads to Brooklyn. They are +138 on the moneyline for Saturday’s game.

Celtics Defense Shines Through Two Games

The Celtics have been the best defensive team in the NBA since the turn of the year. They have held Kevin Durant to 50 points on 41 shots through two games, throwing various different looks and matchups at the former MVP. Boston has been able to maintain elite defensive play even without Robert Williams, who will return in ‘limited minutes’ in Game 3 according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Williams was a fringe candidate for defensive honors prior to his meniscus tear. His switchability and rim protection takes Boston’s defense to another level. While Daniel Theis has played some solid minutes, replacing even 10 or 15 of those with Williams is a major upgrade for the Cs. Brooklyn is still waiting for its defensive reinforcement in Ben Simmons, but Boston has its rim protector back for Saturday’s game.

An extra man in the rotation eases the workload on Al Horford as well. The veteran big man has been exceptional thus far, but Boston will be wary of overworking the former Hawk. It’s also extra insurance against foul trouble after Horford and Theis combined for 11 personals in Game 2.

Brooklyn Nets Struggle to Match Up

Where Boston’s defense could push into another gear, Steve Nash is yet to strike a sufficiently balanced rotation. Bruce Brown has played well in this series, but the minutes from Andre Drummond and Nic Claxton have been inconsistent. Going ultra-small is even more risky when Williams is on the floor as a lob threat.

Seth Curry, Goran Dragic and Patty Mills have all made shots, yet there is no clear formula for how Nash can surround his two stars with the best pieces to matchup with the Celtics. All three are vulnerable on the defensive end, and Brooklyn often has two or more defenders on the floor that the Celtics can target.

Handling Boston’s physical defense and guarding Tatum is too big an ask for Durant. Even if Tatum is kept relatively inefficient, though, Jaylen Brown can take over as he did for a period in Game 2. Payton Pritchard, Derrick White and Marcus Smart can provide offensive impetus when required, too.

Nets vs Celtics Game 3 Prediction

Brooklyn aren’t out of this series. It would be foolish to write them off at this stage. They could easily have an explosive night on offense with role players draining threes and their star duo dominating. Boston’s standards on defense make that hard to envisage, however.

The Celtics were the better team coming into this series and nothing from the first two games has changed that perception. Williams’ return, albeit in limited minutes, only further sways this matchup in their favor. While Brooklyn had to deal with a hostile crowd at TD Garden, the Celtics are unlikely to face such a reception at Barclays Center, limiting the impact of home advantage.

It’s tempting to take Boston on the moneyline here. Instead, we’ll go with the road team to cover just in case Durant and Irving sneak a narrow win.

Pick: Celtics +3.5 (-110)

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