NBA Odds & Picks for Nuggets vs. Celtics: Is the Wrong Team Favored Tuesday Night?

Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic.

Nuggets vs. Celtics Odds

Nuggets Odds +3.5
Celtics Odds -3.5
Moneyline +125 / -150
Over/Under N/A
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds as of Monday night and via BetMGM.

The Denver Nuggets are fresh off a win against the Lakers on Sunday night while the Celtics are licking their wounds after consecutive losses to the Pistons and Wizards.

Can the Celtics turn things around at home against the Nuggets, or will Jokic keep the Nuggets on track for the playoffs?

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Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets did not escape their victory over the Lakers unscathed, as Paul Millsap will miss Tuesday’s game with a knee injury he suffered Sunday. Will Barton will also miss for personal reasons and Monte Morris is listed as questionable for this matchup with a shoulder injury. Keep tabs on his status using our Fantasy Labs Insiders tool.

The Nuggets have now won three straight and look to continue their strong play. Denver’s strength lies with Jokic, who is having an MVP-worthy year — and when he’s off the floor, it’s noticeable. The Nuggets are 8.7 points per 100 possessions better when Jokic is on the floor and while he isn’t a great defender, the offense disintegrates without him.

In all minutes where Jokic is on the floor, the Nuggets score 14.8 points more per 100 offensive possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. He’s an excellent facilitator and the Nuggets are able to attack not only the rim, but also the corner 3, due to his vision. By spacing the floor so effectively, the Nuggets are able to get better looks all around, and when he shares the floor with Jamal Murray, the offense is at its peak.

In the game against the Lakers, the younger Nuggets players got some extended run due to injuries. Michael Porter Jr. seemed to play more within the offense and actually gave an ounce of effort on defense, and Jokic seemingly rewarded him on a few offensive possessions with good looks and opportunities to score.

Additionally, R.J. Hampton and Zeke Nnaji saw more playing time. This may be the path the Nuggets need to take to push them further in the Western Conference.

Looking at Nnaji in particular, he played meaningful defensive minutes on LeBron Sunday night and he’s now 8-of-13 from 3 this season (all eight makes are within the last four games). If he can spread the floor while playing effective defense, he certainly deserves rotation minutes moving forward. We’ll see if the Nuggets deploy him against Jayson Tatum a bit.


Boston Celtics

The Celtics may be without Daniel Theis for this game, as he sprained his right index finder and is listed as questionable. Additionally, since this is the front end of a back-to-back for Boston, it’s entirely possible Kemba Walker may rest in either Tuesday’s game or Wednesday’s. Keep an eye on their statuses as the day progresses.

If Walker sits here, the offensive load shifts even more to Jaylen Brown and Tatum. Ordinarily, this isn’t the end of the world, but considering Tatum is in a bit of a shooting slump, this is truly not ideal for the Celtics. Over his last five games, Tatum is averaging 20.4 points per game but on just 34.8% shooting.

Is this something we should have seen coming? Tatum’s eFG% is just 52% this year, which ranks in the 37th percentile of all forwards. Boston’s eFG% on the season is 53.3% which is 19th ranked in the league and their expected mark is 53.0%, tied for third worst in the league, per Cleaning the Glass.

The Celtics as a whole take mid-range shots at the fifth-highest rate in the league, yet they only make them 40.9% of the time (21st). Denver is not a particularly strong defensive team, so maybe the Celtics can snap out of it in this matchup; however, considering their size disadvantage and potential absence of Theis, relying on that mid-range jumper while Tatum is in a slump sounds questionable.

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Nuggets-Celtics Pick

The Nuggets should retain an edge against this Celtics team that truly feels as if it’s missing a piece. I have always been a fan of Gordon Hayward and I think his absence this season is notable. While Tatum and Brown are excellent scorers, the Celtics’ offense — which is just 14th ranked in points per 100 possessions — has faltered over the past few games.

Jokic should be able to dominate the paint, especially if Theis is unable to go, as Boston’s frontcourt will be thin. Additionally, with some new young talent taking the floor, the Nuggets have a couple unseen options that they can throw at Brad Stevens.

I expect the Nuggets to continue their strong play and extend their win streak to four games, but I’ll gladly take the points on the road.

Pick: Nuggets +3.5

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