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NBA on ESPN Preview: Nets at Celtics, Hawks at Suns

Kyrie Irving heads back to Boston to kick things off, followed by a battle of two masterful point guards in Trae Young and Chris Paul

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA on ESPN is back tonight at 6:30pm CST, as Kyrie Irving leads the Brooklyn Nets into enemy territory, as they square off with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the Boston Celtics. While Irving may be on good terms with his old teammates, the folks of Boston do not feel quite as warm and fuzzy about the old Celtics point guard. Following the conclusion of that game, we will head to the Southwest, as the Phoenix Suns play host to the struggling, confusing, maddening Atlanta Hawks. This is a combustible night for the NBA on National TV if there ever was one.

DraftKings Odds

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Nets (+8.5, +295 ML) at Celtics (-8.5, -360 ML) | Total: 226.5

As of writing 63% of bets are on the Nets to cover the 8.5-point spread, but only 37% of the handle (money) is on Brooklyn, according to VSiN. What that suggests is that your average casual bettor is keen on the Nets to keep this one close on the road, but the professional bettors who wager in larger amounts prefer the Celtics. Brooklyn has been one of the better teams against the spread on the road this year, but that’s not a super high bar to clear. They have the 5th best road record ATS, but that’s still only 15-12, according to TeamRankings. As for the total, the public strongly favors the over, as 80% of bets are on over 219 points. Sharps don’t feel quite as strongly, but 65% of the money is still on the over. It’s not surprising at all that the public likes the over more than the professional bettors do.

The Picks: Celtics -8.5 | Over 226.5

I think there’s legitimately a really good team in there somewhere for the Nets, but they just don’t have the horses right now. Not with both Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons out with injury. I believe in the individual ability of Irving, but Boston just is too deep, and has the defensive bodies to make life really difficult for an offense revolving around just one elite scorer. Irving is certainly that, but it’s the rest of the team that gives me pause.

Ultimately, this is just a bet on the Nets finding a way to muster up enough points to make this one interesting for awhile, but recognizing that they still don’t have the bodies to truly make this a truly great game. I figure Kyrie does enough to push the Celtics, with Tatum and Brown pulling away late.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Hawks (+1, +100 ML) at Suns (-1, -120 ML) | Total: 232.5

As of writing, this line is in flux due to so many potential absences, but that won’t stop us from making a pick on this game.

The Picks: Suns -1 | Under 232.5

It’s hard to make a pick without knowing who is going to play, but I just can’t pretend to trust Atlanta even a little bit. They’re playing better of late, but with teams like them, it only takes one poor quarter to throw everything off track again. The vibe coming from that team is just not a good one, and that stuff genuinely matters.

Give me the Suns to take care of business at home and win by more than one possession, as they find a way to stick together late in a close game when the Hawks lack of chemistry and trust in each other rears its ugly head.

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