The Brooklyn Nets are scrapping to hold onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s the only real exciting playoff race in the NBA at the moment but at the bottom of the East bracket there are five teams competing for three playoff spots. In sixth place, we have the Detroit Pistons followed by the Brooklyn Nets in seventh. The Miami Heat hold down the eighth and final playoff position and only 1 game separates these three teams in the standings. Adding to the fun, on the outside looking in are the Orlando Magic in 9th place who trail the Heat by 1/2 game, the Nets by 1 game and the Pistons by 1.5 games. In 10th place and still in the hunt for now are the Charlotte Hornets who are 2 back of Miami but have been treading water going 5-5 SU in their last 10 games. Adding to the excitement is the fact that the 9th place Magic are currently in the best form having won 7 of 10.
Brooklyn has lost two straight and are just 5-5 in their last ten games. They also have a downright brutal schedule to close out the year playing Milwaukee and Toronto at home, then playing at Milwaukee and Indiana before closing out their season at home against Miami in what could be a ‘win and you’re in’ type of game. That makes this game tonight against the dysfunctional Boston Celtics hugely important and due to the visitors’ injury situation it is a game they definitely can win. This game opened with Brooklyn a -1.5 favorite but has moved to the Nets -4. Some major absences for Boston with Al Horford out with what is listed as a knee injury and Jayson Tatum listed as ‘questionable’ with an illness. In reality, Horford is being rested in the second of a back to back sequence as is Kyrie Irving. Boston pulled off a big home win over Indiana last night that was in doubt until the final buzzer (114-112). It was only the Celtics second win in their last six games but they’ve clinched a playoff spot.
The Celtics and Pacers are tied in fourth and fifth but it’s unlikely that either team will be able to run down Philadelphia who are playing well and 3.5 games up in the standings. Indiana has lost 7 of 10 which takes some pressure off of Boston. Brooklyn off a couple of tough road losses at Portland and Philadelphia. Typically, Brooklyn is a better underdog than a favorite but there’s a lot that lines up for the Nets in this game. Boston has been a horrible bet in back to back spots this year going 3-8-1 (27.3%) against the number. Furthermore, the Nets have owned the Celtics of late covering the last six meetings head to head.
The Celtics will be in letdown mode after last night’s crucial victory and have signaled that this game isn’t particularly important with the decision to sit Horford and Erving. Brooklyn will be more than happy to take advantage of the situation as they fight to make the playoffs.