|-6 DEN (-110) @ Fanduel|
My 10* Revenge Rout is on the Den Nuggets at 3:10 ET.
The Boston Celtics were expected to be among the East's best teams but despite wins in four of their last five games, the Celtics are just 27-26. They are NINE games back of Philadelphia and Brooklyn (both are 36-17) and 5 1/2-games back of Milwaukee (No. 3 seed). Boston finds itself in a life-and-death struggle to avoid the NBA's new "Play-In" tournament, which will feature the 7-10 seeds. Meanwhile, the Nuggets have won EIGHT straight and 17 of their past 20, including the last three without second-leading scorer Jamal Murray, who is sidelined with right-knee soreness. Denver is currently 34-18 but the top of the Western Conference is loaded with strong teams (Jazz, Suns, Clippers and the Lakers, when they get healthy.
Boston's "Big 3" these days are Tatum (25.7-7.0-4.3), Brown (24.3-5.7-3.5) and Walker (17.7 & 5.0 APG). The Celtics rallied at home to beat Minnesota in overtime on Friday night, led by a career-high 53 points from Jayson Tatum. Team-leader Smart (13.4 & 5.6 APG) missed 19 games but has been back since the All Star break plus PF/C Thompson (8.0 & 6.9) had been out since mid-March, before returning for Boston's last two games. Theis (9.5 & 5.2) was moved at the trade deadline but the good news has been that Robert Williams averaged 11.2 & 9.3 when Thompson was sidelined. Fournier (19.7 PPG while with Orlando) has averaged 11.5 PPG in his four games with Boston.
Denver was just 17-17 on the morning of Feb 26 but has since gone 17-3 to move up in the West to the No. 4 seed. Nikola Jokic (26.7-10.9-8.8) has put himself into strong contention for the MVP Award this year and had his 13th triple-double of the season and 54th of his career in Friday's 121-119 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. have benefited from Jokic's court vision. Porter (17.1 & 7.6) had 22 points and 10 rebounds in Friday's win, the fifth time in the past seven games he has recorded a double-double. Gordon (acquired from Orlando before the trade deadline) is averaging 12.3 & 3.7 in his seven games with Denver (all wins). Denver's winning streak has enabled coach Mike Malone to sit Murray (21.3-4.0-4.8). Swingman Barton (12.9-4.2-3.2) has only missed THREE games this season and backup PG Morris (10.6) is back after being out since mid-March, averaging 12.0 PPG in his four games since April 4. Veteran PF Millsap ((9.2 & 4.8) has been solid, while PF Green (8.4 & 5.2) and SG Dozier (6.9 & 3.8) have contributed all season off the bench.
Denver is a complete team and should remember losing 112-99 at Boston back on Feb 16 and Boston's upcoming three-game road trip (at Denver, Portland and the Lakers) will be quite a challenge for a Boston team that has come nowhere its 2020-21 expectations. Lay the points.