COVID-19 has made the Under the sharp NBA pick for Wednesday’s tilt between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics
Wednesday, December 22, 2021- 7:30 PM EST at TD Garden
The show must go on. That phrase is supposed to be used somewhat ironically, but the NBA is very serious about continuing to play through the latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Teams are now mandated – not allowed, mandated – to sign replacement players to fill out their rosters and ensure they have enough warm bodies to keep the games going.
The more players who land on the COVID-19 list, the more replacement players teams have to sign, up to a maximum of three. That doesn’t mean all these scrubs actually have to play. It depends on how many holes each team has to fill; when it comes to Wednesday’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, the Cavaliers have eight players in league protocol at press time, while the Celtics have five.
The opening NBA odds at DraftKings have Boston as 4.5-point home faves, but with so many players on the shelf, the Under might be the better choice once the totals are posted.
Shooting is the most important thing in basketball. If you’re good at it, you’ll get to play, even if your defense isn’t quite up to snuff. There are some defensive specialists out there who are black holes on offense, but not many.
The more teams are forced to dip into the G-League and elsewhere to fill their rosters, the more we can expect their shooting accuracy to dip. For example, Monday’s slate of six games (whittled down from seven) saw the Under go 5-1 against the NBA lines.
That included Boston’s 108-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers (Under 215), which saw multiple absences on both sides. The Celtics (15-16 SU, 16-14-1 ATS, 17-13-1 Under) were without Josh Richardson, Grant Williams, Jabari Parker, Juancho Hernangómez, and Sam Hauser; they signed Justin Jackson and C.J. Miles to 10-day “hardship” contracts, although neither came off the bench Monday.
The Cavaliers (19-12 SU, 24-7 ATS, 20-11 Under) might not be able to avoid playing some of their scrubs. With all their missing personnel, Cleveland had their Sunday game versus the Atlanta Hawks postponed, then they signed Justin Anderson and Luke Kornet on Monday when the new league mandate was announced.
Their COVID-19 list includes Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Ed Davis, and Isaac Okoro. Allen had been enjoying a breakout campaign, too. Mobley is the talk of the town, the future face of the franchise, and the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, but Allen was playing at an All-Star level, racking up 18.5 points and 11.9 rebounds (3.6 of those at the offensive end) per 36 minutes. Kornet, or whoever else gets those minutes, is not likely to match those contributions.
Bet accordingly – although I can no longer recommend waiting for the morning shoot-around before making your NBA picks, because those have been getting canceled, too.
NBA Pick: Under 212 (-110) with DraftKings