Celtics vs. Nets NBA Best Bets for Thursday

Nicolas Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets dunks against the Boston Celtics. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Even without Ben Simmons, the new-look Brooklyn Nets can beat the odds at the top sportsbooks this Thursday when they host the Boston Celtics.

Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets

Thursday, February 24, 2022 – 07:30 PM EST at Barclays Center

It’s like picking cherries off a tree. The Brooklyn Nets were a mess before they sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers at the trade deadline; they’re still a mess now, but they’ve done much better against the NBA odds, officially going 2-3 SU and 3-1-1 ATS since the Harden deal.

That includes their 111-106 win over the New York Knicks (–4.5 at home), which we previewed in this space.

This dynamic should continue Thursday night when the Nets (31-28 SU, 23-34-2 ATS) host the Boston Celtics (34-26 SU, 30-29-1 ATS) in a key Atlantic Division matchup.

At press time, the Celtics are laying 6.5 points at MaximBet; that’s probably too many points given the subtle improvements Brooklyn made at the deadline – even if the C’s did make some moves of their own.

Dragon’s Den

As we mentioned in our Nets-Knicks betting preview, the Harden trade was about more than just Ben Simmons, who isn’t expected to make his Brooklyn debut for another week or so. The Nets also landed Seth Curry and Andre Drummond in this exchange, and both have performed admirably for their new employers at positions of need.

Brooklyn also did themselves a favor by cutting Jevon Carter to make room for Goran Dragic, who signed up for the rest of the season after getting bought out by the San Antonio Spurs, following the Thaddeus Young trade the Toronto Raptors.

Dragic won’t play Thursday either, but jettisoning Carter (who will reportedly sign with the Milwaukee Bucks) is a case of addition by subtraction, at least given his level of play this year.

Theis Is Nice

The Celtics didn’t sit idle at the trade deadline. They picked up Derrick White from the Spurs without having to move any of their core players, and they reunited with Daniel Theis in a similarly painless deal with the Chicago Bulls.

White is the key here, although Theis certainly looked rejuvenated in the two games he’s played since his return. Speaking of returns, Marcus Smart is expected to play Thursday after spraining his right ankle and missing the last game before the All-Star break, a 112-111 loss to the Detroit Pistons as 12-point home faves.

It looks like Robert Williams (right calf) will also be available, which puts Boston at close to full health for their playoff drive. Not ideal if you’re going to fade the C’s for your NBA picks.

It’s still the right thing to do. Smart and Williams are both quality players, but so are the men getting bumped down to the second unit: the aforementioned White, and Grant Williams.

Boston supporters will likely overvalue their team’s chances here, while Brooklyn will be undervalued while Simmons, Kevin Durant (knee) and Kyrie Irving (anti-vax) are all on the shelf. Bet accordingly.

NBA Pick: Nets +6.5 (–109) at MaximBet