NBA Playoff Preview: Nets Facing Tough Test Versus Celtics

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 14, 2022
Nets vs. Celtics at Barclays

The NBA community, fans and NJ sportsbook operators waited  for the Brooklyn Nets  to reach the postseason with the patience of Motel 6 leaving the lights on for its  guests.

And now the Nets have checked in.

They reached the playoff scene for Sunday’s best-of-seven series opener with the Boston Celtics by winning their play-in  game as expected against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 115-108 Tuesday night.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics odds at NJ sportsbooks

Early look at Brooklyn vs. Boston betting picture

When the Nets oppose the No. 2 Celtics, the No. 7 seed Nets will enjoy extraordinary respect among New Jersey sports bettors. Garden State gamblers make Brooklyn a mere +110, barely an underdog, to win the series.

Compare that with the Western Conference, in which the No.2 Memphis Grizzlies have home court edge over the No. 7  Minnesota Timberwolves. The betting odds are Memphis -330, as one might expect.

But the Nets? They are only +4 in the opening game and expected to compete well in the series.

Just like everybody thought.

The over-under of 223.5 for Game 1 will be enticing for over bettors because the offenses  have been lighting it up. The counter to that is how tightly defenses play during the NBA Playoffs.

The matchups unfold  like this after Sunday’s opener:

  • Game 2 is April 20 in Boston
  • Games 3 and 4 are in Brooklyn April 23 and 25.
  • The final three games, if required, would occur April 27 in Boston, April 29 back in Brooklyn and May 1 in Boston.

The Nets and Celtics are more than a 2-versus-7 matchup. They are must-see TV.

Nets-Celtics: A  tale of  two journeys

These are two teams nobody wants to play. Now they’re facing each other.

The Celtics have been on fire, unfurling a 26-6 streak after starting 25-25. This was no fluke run. One of  their victories was a 48-point bomb out of the Sixers, 135-87, at Wells Fargo Center.

Who does that to a 51-win team?

Because of the slow start, Boston stayed under the radar on the futures book. They are still +950 to win it all at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Fans and bettors will get used to the depth of the Celtics.  Star players include Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Derrick White and even former Sixer Al Horford.

The Celtics are a surprise.The Nets, however, were expected to plow through their obstacle-ridden regular season.

Nobody panicked when star Kyrie Irving could not play home games because of a New York City vaccine mandate.

Nobody panicked when superstar Kevin Durant was hurt.

There were no rumblings  when superstar James Harden was dealt to the Sixers on Feb. 10 for Ben Simmons, who still hasn’t played. Who knows if Simmons will even suit up for an NBA Playoff game this season.

Panic when the Nets went 3-17?


Panic when they fell below .500.?


Just wait for them, the reasoning went. They will show up in the postseason.

And they did.

Ways to bet the NBA Playoff series

Nets backers have an automatic first play. Take plus numbers on the series and don’t try to be too exact.

Not until you make the second bet.

That’s a fun one, trying to predict the exact series score. This  should be a light bet, because this is a bit of a crapshoot, but worth looking at.

Boston Celtics to win series odds:

  • Seven games +340
  • Six games +350
  • Five games is +550
  • Sweep in four games +1200

Nets odds to win series:

  • Seven games +500
  • Six games +350
  • Five games +800
  • Sweep in four games +1300.

Did the Milwaukee Bucks duck the Nets?

Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings,  mirrored the confidence  we’ve often mentioned here regarding the Nets.

Even as Brooklyn scuffled through its season, DraftKings  did not move the Nets’ odds down (as they did on the Los Angeles Lakers, who became +30000 or 300-1 and missed the play-in).

“We never had them that high,” Avello told Play NJ about a Nets  team that closed the regular season at +600.

Those odds were the third lowest on the futures  board behind the Phoenix Suns (+260) and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks (+500).

“We knew  that once Kyrie Irving could play at home with the vaccine mandate lifted and that when Kevin Durant came back, this team could turn things around,”   Avello continued.

“They were in jeopardy of not making the playoffs. That was a possibility. Now that they are in, they are capable of running the table.

“This is a team that could be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed easily. Didn’t the Bucks lose their last game to avoid facing the Nets?”

It looks that way.

Milwaukee rested eight players in a season-ending setback to the Cavaliers that dropped Milwaukee into third place in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks end up with a more desirable matchup against the No. 6 seed Chicago Bulls, opting to sacrifice home-court  edge in the second round to do it.

The concept is  unthinkable, most of the time.

But this was the exception.

It looks  like the Bucks  positioned themselves to face the Bulls rather than the Nets.

Nets vs. Celtics series betting sample from Caesars Sportsbook

New Jersey gamblers  have additional wagering intrigue in the series format.

One Caesars Sportsbook wager is  to guess the length of the series, regardless of which team wins.

The odds are +190 for the series to end in seven games.

Odds are +200 for a six-game outcome and +280 to end in five.

A four-game sweep by either team pays +600.

Veteran New Jersey UFC bettors will recognize the flow of this type of bet.

There are  wagers  one can make in which it doesn’t matter who wins.

In the UFC example, bettors can select varied  props like either fighter to score a knockout, how the fight ends and the length of the bout, regardless of the winner. They accept a smaller payout for a larger chance to win.

In the NBA example, if one picks a seven-game length and the series is tied 3-3, this is a guaranteed winner.  It doesn’t matter who wins Game 7. The payout is smaller  than picking either team four games to  three, but it is guaranteed before the final game.

For the Nets-Celtics, a sweep  by either team pays +600 at Caesars, while an individual team sweep would pay +1200 for Boston and +1300 for the Nets at DraftKings.

It’s simply a matter of how specific bettors want to be.

Here’s another interesting one.

How will the series stand after three games?

  • 2-1 Boston lead pays +115.
  • 2-1 Nets lead is worth +180
  • 3-0 Celtics lead is +430
  • 3-0 Nets lead is +1000

Look for more applicable wagers as the series draws closer.


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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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