WHO: Celtics (20-20) vs. Kings (16-24)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: TD Garden
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
G: Kemba Walker
G: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Jaylen Brown
C: Daniel Theis
G: De’Aaron Fox
G: Tyrese Haliburton
SF: Buddy Hield
PF: Harrison Barnes
C: Richaun Holmes
The Boston Celtics (20-20, 18-22 ATS) host the Sacramento Kings (16-24, 17-23 ATS) to begin a weekend home stand six days before the NBA Trade Deadline. Harrison Barnes, noted Boston trade target, will start for the Kings and inspire dreams if the C’s can play well over their next four games. Boston has lost 3-of-4 since the all star break.
Tristan Thompson (COVID-19 protocol) and Romeo Langford (COVID-19 protocol) will not play, appearing to be long-term COVID absences after missing multiple games now.
Marvin Bagley (hand) and Chimezie Metu (wrist) are out for Sacramento.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 7.0 point favorites.
- Celtics vs. Kings spread: Celtics -7
- Celtics vs. Kings over-under: 232 points
- Celtics vs. Kings money line: Celtics -275, Kings +230
The Celtics are bad right now. Their defense has slipped to 24th in defensive efficiency over the past 15 games. They lost to a Cavaliers team that ranked last in offense, allowing 117 points, and sliding to the play-in tournament in the east behind the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets. Marcus Smart admitted this morning that the team isn’t having fun and outside circumstances during an atypical season have influenced the team’s mentality. They feel pressured, he said.
The Trade Deadline is six days away with Sacramento entering Boston having lost 13-of-17. They may sell pieces like Richaun Holmes or Harrison Barnes, who would both fit with and help the Celtics. Barnes scored 24 points the last time these teams met, reaching the free throw line 10 times. Boston, however, could become sellers too only four games above the Kings, if they stumble into the trade deadline.
Danny Ainge and Boston rightfully aren’t convinced buying would help this hapless C’s team. Even if the group solidifies its east standing, the 76ers, Nets, Bucks and Heat have emerged as strong eastern frontrunners.
Without being certain victors against teams like Sacramento, Boston will fizzle out fast, and they already lost to this Kings team when they were playing better in February. Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart missed that game, a 116-111 loss, but Boston shot 45.3% against what’s been one of the worst defenses in NBA history at times during this season.
De’Aaron Fox scored 26 with a dominant closing stretch. Boston has since become the league’s worst fourth quarter team.
I picked Boston against Utah and Cleveland and got burned. I’ll continue to hold out, as the Kings having sunk to the bottom of the basketball world with Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart active tonight.
Boston isn’t playing good enough defense to beat a Sacramento team that ranks top-10 in scoring and offensive rating, while averaging 55% on two-pointers. Richaun Holmes, De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton will all test a struggling Boston defensive unit off the dribble, and allowing 63.3% at the rim. They will benefit, however, from Kemba Walker averaging 27.3 points in four games after resting since February began.
Over their last 15 points, the Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba trio is averaging 54.8% of Boston’s 118.8 points per game (5th). This game, at least, is a cover for the Kings if they can key in on them, but a third option has been enough to win the Celtics games.
Boston 117, Sacramento 111 (18-15, 13-17 ATS)