The Brooklyn Nets are down 2-0 in their opening-round series against the Boston Celtics and will be hoping to right the ship in Game 3 on Saturday, April 23rd. Celtics vs. Nets has been a wrestling match at times, and the physicality has thrown the typically indomitable Kevin Durant out of rhythm.
In our latest NBA picks and predictions piece, we delve into whether the Nets can bounce back in Game 3, or if Robert Williams’ return spells the functional end of Brooklyn’s season.
Celtics vs Nets odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
A desperate Brooklyn team is getting the benefit of the doubt, opening at -3.5, now sitting at -3. The total has dropped slightly after opening at 224 to 223.
Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.
Celtics vs Nets predictions
Predictions made on 4/22/2022 at 9:55 pm ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Celtics vs Nets game info
• Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
• Date: Saturday, April 23, 2022
• Tip-off: 7:30 pm ET
• TV: ESPN
Celtics vs Nets series odds
Celtics vs Nets betting preview
Celtics: Robert Williams III C (Probable).
Nets: Ben Simmons PG (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.
Betting trend to know
Celtics are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games playing on 2 days rest. Find more NBA betting trends for Celtics vs. Nets.
Celtics vs Nets picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
The first two games in this series have been close-run things, with the Nets having seemingly commanding leads in both fourth quarters before ultimately giving way to Celtics victories. It’s also been one of the more tactically diverse series of the playoffs, with both coaches trying to hide or exploit the most vulnerable players.
The Nets opted to shift Bruce Brown to cover Jayson Tatum in Game 2, hoping that allowing Kevin Durant an easier defensive matchup would help him find his flow on offense. And while Durant managed to score 27 points, he was 4-17 from the field and largely looked out of sorts throughout the game. Kyrie Irving was even worse, going 4-13 and chipping in only 10.
And yet, the Nets led most of the game because of strong performances by Brown and Goran Dragic. To Nets optimists, their best players both struggled, and they nearly won. For Nets pessimists, Goran Dragic and Bruce Brown are not getting you very far if they’re two of your leading scorers.
What the Celtics have done to two of the game’s greatest scorers is nothing short of incredible. It is now long established that, analytically speaking, the worst shot in basketball is a contested long two. Brooklyn shot 37.2% from the midrange in Game 2, largely because the Celtics forced the Nets into 28 shots from long midrange per Cleaning the Glass. With the Celtics showing the Nets so many bodies, Brooklyn only hit eight of those.
Even against some of the best mid-range shooters in the league, that’s a winning formula for Boston. The Nets will need to lean more on Kyrie Irving in Game 3. They’ve looked their best when Irving, not Durant, has been initiating the offense.
Getting Williams back tonight is huge for the Celtics. Thought by many to be lost for the season when diagnosed with a meniscus tear, Williams is eyeing a return to the lineup in Game 3. He transforms an already-potent Boston backline into a devastating one, and what has been a pretty even battle on the glass now tilts in favor of the Celtics.
Williams also gives them yet another body to throw on Durant and alleviates the heavy load being carried by Al Horford. Williams may only play 15 minutes in Game 3, but that’s going to have an outsized effect on the Celtics’ defense during that time and should reduce Daniel Theis to an appropriately peripheral role. Boston’s style of defense is difficult to sustain, which is another reason to think that with an extra day off they’ll be difficult for Brooklyn to handle. The Celtics are 6-0 ATS in their last six games playing on two days’ rest.
Prediction: Celtics +3 (-110 at PointsBet)
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Over / Under analysis
The Celtics play a relentless, physical style of defense. Playing that way is exhausting, both for the team on the receiving end as well as for Boston’s players. The Nets are a top-heavy team, but this Celtics group is thin too. This is where the return of Robert Williams III looms the largest.
The Celtics’ defense was 4.5 points better with Williams on the court during the regular season. If the Nets play a non-shooter, Williams will sag off him mercilessly, ready to pounce on any Brooklyn player that threatens the basket.
Getting a player of Williams’ caliber back also drops the demands on every other player in the lineup. Even if it’s only by a handful of minutes, it allows the Celtics to go full tilt just that extra bit longer.
The main beneficiary of Williams’ return is Al Horford, currently playing some of the best basketball of his career. He’s switching liberally, protecting the paint, and even giving Durant trouble in isolation. But at 35 years old, it’s fair to wonder if he could keep this up.
The extra day of rest and Williams returning means that Horford and this Celtics defense will be relatively fresh in the second half. A fresh defense is a stingy one, and much more likely to force the Under.
Prediction: Under 223 (-108 at Unibet)
The Nets’ defense is a different story. Star players often give lackluster effort on defense, and Kyrie and KD are both guilty of defensive lapses and inconsistent play on that end. But it should not be understated how exhausting it is to both carry an offense and then also show out on defense in the NBA.
Particularly in this series, when the Celtics are touching up Kyrie and KD off the ball on every play, pushing them off their spots, and hard-fouling them rather than conceding anything at the rim. It’s a spiritual successor to a 90s-style defense, even if its principles are informed by the pace-and-space era we find ourselves in.
Kyrie and KD are both capable of good (and KD even outstanding) defense when rested and locked in. This is why another key betting trend for Game 3 is that the Under is 5-0 in Nets ‘last five games playing on two days’ rest. Durant and Irving could get buckets in their sleep, but to play defense, they need a little help.
That extra day off alongside Williams’ return combined to make the Under my best bet for Game 3.
Pick: Under 223 (-108 at Unibet)
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