Books adjust to Celtics
November 15, 2017
The Boston Celtics are 12/1 to Win It All
With five players scoring in double-digits (again), the Boston Celtics cruised to their 13th win a row. That puts them twenty away from the all-time streak of 33 wins by the 1971-71 Los Angeles Lakers, or fifteen away from tying the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about.
In case you haven’t heard, the Celtics are ridiculously good. Not only are they 13-2 straight up on the season, they’ve also become a gold mine in the sportsbook with a 12-2-1 against the spread record. You might expect that this is all because of an offensive outburst the likes we’ve never seen before, but you’d be wrong.
In terms of basic statistics, the Celtics are the 22nd best scoring offence with 102.7 points per game. That sounds bad, right? Well it’s compounded by the fact that they’re only 19th in terms of an advanced metric called offensive rating, which measures how efficient a team is when it comes to scoring. Boston is averaging 102.8 points per 100 possessions. To put this in perspective, the Golden State Warriors are ranked first with 116.2. All but five teams in the entire league have an offensive rating which puts them above 100 points per 100 possessions.
A boom in the offence was meant to arrive with Kyrie Irving in town, but the way in which it’s happening is a marvel to behold. Irving isn’t just creating offensive, it’s been fed to him as well. In particular, the Horford-Irving combination is absolutely electrifying in the give-and-go.
NBA Championship Odds - per BetOnline.ag
Golden State Warriors -175
Cleveland Cavaliers +400
Houston Rockets +700
Boston Celtics +1200
San Antonio Spurs +1400
Oklahoma City Thunder +1600
Where Boston stands out is on the other side of the court. They allow just 95.8 points per 100 possessions, giving them the best defensive rating in all of professional basketball. For those of you who hate nerds, this also means that the Celtics are the best defensive team in basketball allowing just 94.5 points per game.
The uptick in attention to defence is as much about attitude as it is about understanding what the path to an NBA title includes. To have a chance at winning it all this season, the Celtics have to probably do two things: figure out how to slow down LeBron James, and do the same against the Golden State Warriors.
A popular mindset when you’re trying to specialize as a team is to focus on an area that no other team is bothering to. So what has Boston’s coaches pinpointed? Of all the things it could have been, what Brad Stevens chose was rebounding.
The only team that comes close to notching the average metrics on the boards that Boston does is the Portland Trail Blazers. The difference is that Portland went a traditional route, using all of their bigs to scour for rebounds when the combination of Lillard and McCollum miss shots. It happens.
The major difference with Boston is that its their guards who hawk boards like nobody’s business. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart are absolute fiends when it comes to swarming loose balls off the rim or backboard. And that effort is creating a whirlwind of change in the possession game that Boston loves to control.
A newly founded attention to defence was possible when Baynes arrived to serve as a true center, but the effort from his surrounding teammates is what really bands off the charts. If you look at the top-10 defensive players in the league according to defensive rating, you’ll find that seven of the ten players are Boston Celtics. I’m not even joking. Even Kyrie Irving is there. Yes, the same Kyrie Irving that used to make people laugh when his name was mentioned in the same sentence as the word “defence”.
Is it enough to really slow down the Golden State Warriors? Well it’s certainly enough to catch their attention. Steve Kerr heaped praise on the Boston Celtics by calling them the “Future of the East”. He’ll get a first hand look at the Celtics when his Warriors visit the Garden on Thursday evening.
That game may or may not be a preview of the NBA Finals, but it’s as good a time as any to mention that the Boston Celtics are +1200 to win the championship this year. I love betting the long game when it comes to value as much as anyone, but that is as good of a price as anything I’ve seen in a long while.
Even if you don’t like those odds as a probability play, given that we’re just a few weeks in to the season, you’re bonkers if you’re not banging on Boston as a regular play in the NBA sportsbook. Just do it.
Check out the NBA futures market to hammer the Celtics at +1200 or scope out the other contenders for the 2018 NBA Championship!
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