The Boston Celtics try to even their best-of-seven series with the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 on Sunday. The Nets were unstoppable on offense in the first two games of the series but Jayson Tatum carried the Celtics to a 125-119 home win in Game 3.
A lot has been said about the Brooklyn defense but you have to understand that their offense is their defense. The Nets manipulate the flow and pace of a game with their offensive tempo and the Celtics have to keep up. Whoever plays them ends up not playing defense and the Celtics are without Jaylen Brown (plus-3.5 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) for the rest of the season, which clearly doesn’t help.
The Nets’ system is set up so they run the opposing team out the gym. They turn games into a shootout with the hopes that they will score more efficiently than their opponent. The downfall is that the other team’s scorers (Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker) can get hot. That’s exactly what happened in Game 3, with Tatum going off for 50 points, seven assists and six rebounds on 16 of 30 shooting and 5 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Still, the Nets rather than beat you 100-87, they want to beat you 130-108, just like they did in Game 2. The Celtics got 50 points from Tatum and won by just six points. They obviously need Tatum to explode again! Will the Nets make the necessary adjustments? Game 4 will take place on Sunday at 7:00 PM ET at TD Garden.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Brooklyn Nets: 1.38
• Boston Celtics: 3.25
• Brooklyn Nets: -6.5 (1.91)
• Boston Celtics: +6.5 (1.90)
• Over 229.5 (1.91)
• Under 229.5 (1.90)
Key Points to Consider
The big question marks for Game 3 are, will Jayson Tatum play? and, can he take over the game if he plays? Tatum had to leave Game 2 with eight minutes, 48 seconds to play in the third quarter when he was accidentally poked in the eye by Kevin Durant, causing him to stumble to the ground and turn the ball over. Tatum went to the locker room and then returned to the bench but he was later ruled out for the rest of the game. The star forward played in Game 3 and took over, proving how special he is by becoming the only player in NBA history to score 50 points in regular season, play-in tournament and playoff games. Already without Brown, the Celtics won’t win this series unless Tatum plays like the star that he is. It’s that simple!
The Over is 16-6 in Brooklyn’s last 22 games as a road favorite, 7-0 in Boston’s last seven home games and 11-5 in Boston’s last 16 games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
For the Nets, James Harden is projected to finish with 20.6 points, 7.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds, making 5.6 field goals in 14.0 attempts.
For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum is expected to score 29.5 points with 8.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists, making 10.6 field goals in 23.0 attempts.
Two-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the total in this one. Average score in simulations is Brooklyn Nets 119.2 to Boston Celtics 115.3.
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