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Tipico Tips: Betting the Thursday NBA slate (March 11)

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The NBA gave us an appetizer on Wednesday evening, but the league is rolling out the full menu of games Thursday. None is more intriguing than the primetime game on TNT between the visiting Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets. These two teams met on Christmas with the Nets blowing the Celtics off the court to win by 28. The names and faces are very different for this matchup though, so we can throw that game out for our analysis. Kevin Durant is out for the Nets, and James Harden was still a Rocket when these teams first met. 

The Celtics have had an up-and-down season. They are hovering barely over .500 at the moment, winning their last four at home before the All-Star break after losing three straight on the road. The Celtics have struggled on both sides of the ball. They were one of the few teams that ended last season in the top 10 for both offensive and defensive efficiency, scoring the fourth-most points per 100 possessions and also allowed the fourth-fewest — they were exceptional in both. They are not bad in either category this year — they rank 12th on offense and dead middle on defense. That will win you some games, but it is not going to allow you to compete with the best teams in the league on a consistent basis. Both teams are rested due to the break, but the Celtics are the weaker team here and have to play on the road. 

The Nets took a little time to gel, but they seem to have hit their stride now. They are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for most wins in the East with 24. Brooklyn was on fire to close out the first half of the season. They won 10 of their last 11 games and covered the spread in all 10 wins, seven of which were on the road. They are winning and winning big on a consistent basis, even in adverse conditions like road games and back-to-backs. They do have some interesting storylines right now with Jeff Green being questionable and Blake Griffin being added to the mix. The Nets currently have the deadliest offense in the NBA, averaging a league-best 120.4 points per 100 possessions, more than a point better than the second-place Utah Jazz. It is also 6.5 points more than the opposing Celtics. Brooklyn is even worse defensively than the Celtics though, so that might help bridge the gap a little. Brooklyn is allowing the seventh-most points per possession to their opponents. 

This game is destined to be high scoring. The total is 234.5, and we have plenty of scenarios where the game gets there or goes even higher. That said, the bettors and the books both know these are talented offensive teams and bad defenses — this number is not an easy one to attain. The better value at this number is on the under even though that goes against conventional thinking. As for the spread, the Nets won and covered in 10 of their last 11 games. They are playing a less talented team at home off a long rest. A 3.5-point spread is one of the smaller ones the Nets have been asked to cover lately. The offense puts up points so efficiently you will always feel like the Nets have a chance to come back and give you the thrill of that dramatic cover on a late foul and some free throws to pull away.  

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