Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM

Inside the Paint - Saturday

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Game of the Night (ABC, 8:35 p.m. ET)
Golden State (34-14 SU, 21-26-1 ATS) at Boston (30-18 SU, 25-23 ATS)

All eyes will be on TD Garden come Saturday night as the two-time defending champions Golden State Warriors will look to win their 10th straight game when they meet the Boston Celtics.

Oddsmakers opened the Warriors as two-point road favorites and this will be just the second time this season that Boston is catching points on its own floor. The first instance occurred on Dec. 21 and the Bucks (-1 ½) posted a wire-to-wire 120-107 win over the Celtics. Prior to the Milwaukee loss, Boston had covered 11 straight games (10-1 SU) as a home ‘dog and all those games took place last season.

That Celtics squad had less talent than this year’s squad, largely because of injuries. Even though this year’s group has been healthier, they haven’t lived up to their high expectations set by the oddsmakers in Win Total wagers.

Despite the mediocre start, Boston enters this matchup on a five-game winning streak and NBA expert Tony Mejia touches on what we’ve seen lately from the C’s.

He said, “The Celtics remain closer to fourth place in the Atlantic Division than they were to first due to the impressive run the Brooklyn Nets have made over the past month, but we’re starting to see why oddsmakers have had so much faith in them, casting them in the role. Kyrie Irving is finally fully healthy after nursing injuries to his shoulder, shin, cornea and most recently, his quad. He racked up eight steals against the Heat on Monday and has now averaged 30.8 points and 11 assists on over his past four games. He’ll be rested after sitting out the blowout win over the Cavs on Wednesday and should be ready for old friend Stephen Curry, who he got quite cozy during the Warriors-Cavs Finals matchups back in ‘16 and ‘17. Curry has scored over 30 points in six of his 10 January games. He comes in having made just seven of his last 29 3-pointers, so one could say he’s in a mini-slump from distance but his willingness to shoot the ball indicates he’s feeling pretty comfortable. I wouldn’t balk at riding the ‘over’ despite a large total with Curry and Irving both in a nice flow.”

The Celtics have gone 3-2 against the spread during their current winning streak and the offense has been sharp, averaging 116.4 points per game. The way Golden State is playing, Boston might have to top that number tonight.

The Warriors are averaging 130.1 PPG during its current nine-game winning streak and that includes a 126-118 road win over Washington on Thursday. They failed to cover (-9 ½) against the Wizards but have still managed to turn a slight profit (5-4-1 ATS) during this run while the ‘over’ has gone 6-3.

Including the victory over Washington, Golden State is now 3-0 since DeMarcus Cousins made his debut with the team on Jan. 18.

“Cousins has made an impressive impact but will run into his first fellow All-Star center since returning from his ruptured Achilles, tangling with Al Horford. Cousins has averaged 13 points, even boards and 3.7 assists in just over 20 minutes per game, shooting 4-for-7 from 3-point range.  His ability to set up teammates with incredibly easy looks has already stood out. Horford was shelved through most of December due to knee pain and has been on a minutes’ restriction that Celtics coach Brad Stevens has only recently relented upon. He’s averaged 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 67 percent from the field over his last four before sitting out to ensure he has fresh legs for this matchup. Both the Celtics and Warriors should enjoy fantastic spacing in the halfcourt if and when this game bogs down,” explained Mejia.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, these are the top two favorites to win the NBA Finals this summer. Golden State is a massive 4/9 (Bet $225 to win $100) 'chalk' to win it all while the Celtics come in at 6/1 (Bet $100 to win $600) odds.

Barring key injuries, the Warriors will likely be 1/4 (Bet $100 to win $25) favorites or higher against any Eastern Conference team in a best-of-seven series. While the Celtics should be heavy ‘dogs, Stevens and company should have confidence against Golden State.

The Celtics have won three of the last five encounters between the pair and they've covered four of those games. Boston has stifled Golden State to 98.6 PPG during that span, and that’s led to a 5-0 ‘under’ mark.

Nothing should surprise anybody in pro sports but it would be a little alarming to see Golden State held under the century mark on Saturday or Boston for that matter either. Especially knowing that the Warriors have scored at least 100 points in 28 of their last 29 and Boston has done so in 31 of its previous 32. Despite those offensive surges, the total opened 230 at and early action knocked it down to 228 ½ but I would expect it to move upwards as the primetime contest approaches tipoff.

Making a case can be tough for Boston but Golden State is just 16-12 this season against teams above .500. You can’t dismiss a team for dominating its schedule but outside of an impressive victory at Denver (142-11) on Jan. 15, the Warriors haven’t faced many tests during this winning streak and Saturday’s matchup will be the first of many. After Boston, head coach Steve Kerr and company will face Indiana on the road Monday before opening a three-game homestand next Thursday versus the 76ers, Lakers and Spurs.

While the Celtics have been pedestrian against winning clubs (10-10) this season, TD Garden (19-5 SU, 16-8 ATS) has been a tough out for all opponents. I doubt the point-spread will come into play on Saturday since it’s short and it hasn’t played a factor much this season as bettors have just needed to pick the winner for the most part. Boston has won 11 straight at home and three of those wins came against quality teams from the East in Toronto, Indiana and Philadelphia.

Boston has gone 9-8 versus the Western Conference this season, which includes a 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS mark at home. Meanwhile, Golden State has flourished against the East with a 13-4 mark. The Warriors have gone 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS on the road with the losses coming to the Raptors (131-128) and Pistons (111-102). 

The Rest…

Saturday’s slate has four other games on tap but many of them are plagued by injuries. Below is my quick handicap and betting approach on those contests.

San Antonio at New Orleans: The Pelicans won’t have Anthony Davis (hand) available again and they could be without Julius Randle (ankle) as well. DeMar DeRozan (knee) has been ruled ‘out’ for the Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge could join him with a wrist injury. The Spurs still have the advantage with depth and talent, plus they’ve been better on the road (6-2 ATS) for bettors recently. If anything, I would lean to San Antonio but passing the first game on the board appears to be the safest move.  

Indiana at Memphis: Sticking with safe plays, nothing sticks out in this one either. The Pacers begin life after Victor Oladipo (quad injury) and they went 7-4 without the All-Star already this season. Memphis is a mess and I’m surprised head coach J.B. Bickerstaff hasn’t been fired yet, something he’d probably prefer. Since starting 12-8, the club has gone 7-22 and that includes a losing streak of eight straight entering this game.  They lost 99-96 at home to the Kings last night and they’ve gone 1-5 both SU and ATS on no rest this season. The ‘under’ has gone 5-1 in those back-to-back spots and even though the total is low (204), it’s hard to see either team getting into the 100’s here.

Philadelphia at Denver: The 76ers won’t likely have Jimmy Butler (wrist) or Joel Embidd (rest) available for this game, which should make Denver close as a double-digit favorite. The Nuggets are playing on no rest after running past Phoenix 132-95 last night and they’ve been decent (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) in these situations. The ‘under’ has gone 5-2 in those games and I’m not sure who’s going to score for the 76ers, which is why I would likely lean to the low side.

Atlanta at Portland: Toss-up game here with Portland (-11 ½) laying a big price and it should get support from the public, the ‘over’ too. The Trail Blazers have gone 4-0 this season as double-digit home favorites but they’re just 2-2 ATS. Atlanta has covered three of its last four road games when catching 10-plus and the ‘over’ has gone 3-1 in those games. The Blazers have cleaned up against the East at home (9-1) this season and they’ve averaged 120.5 PPG. Atlanta comes in rested and confident off a 121-101 win over Chicago on Wednesday. I would back that momentum with the Hawks and play the ‘over’ (228) in this game.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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