Brian Scalabrine: NBA champion on Nets vs Celtics, Pelicans vs Suns and his best bet for Friday
I’m Brian Scalabrine, 11-year NBA vet and member of the world champion 2008 Boston Celtics. Moving forward I’ll be writing regular columns here at Pickswise, giving my thoughts on the NBA betting market. It’s been a busy week in the association, and there’s a lot to digest.
Today we’ll be talking about a couple of playoff series’ that have shifted dramatically this week. First we’ll talk Brooklyn Nets and their 2-0 deficit to the Boston Celtics, and then about how the Devin Booker injury will impact the Phoenix Suns’ matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans. And we’ll finish with my favorite point spread bet from Friday’s games.
Nets vs Celtics analysis: Stick a fork in Brooklyn?
When I look at the Nets/Celtics series, I don’t see too many reasons for optimism for Brooklyn. After Game 1, it was clear to me that Boston was the much better team. The Celtics have eight guys that can all defend and all shoot it, and it’s hard to beat that. The Nets on the other hand have very few of those all-around role players.
Andre Drummond can rebound but he can’t defend the perimeter or the pick-and-roll. Patty Mills can shoot it but can’t defend. Bruce Brown had a great offensive game the other night, but he typically can’t stretch the floor or create space for other guys.
The Celtics are just the much better squad, and they haven’t even played their best ball yet despite being up 2-0. I think they’ll close it out in five. Brooklyn will get a game, most likely Game 3, but the Celtics should win Game 4 and then finish things off back at home.
That being said, there is one thing that could potentially save the Nets. Just what the doctor ordered for Brooklyn would be a very good Ben Simmons. The odds of that happening after not playing since last June are very low, but if you asked me exactly what type of player the Nets need to win this series I would say a high-level Ben Simmons. I just don’t think it’s particularly likely, but crazier things have happened.
The Suns should be fine without Devin Booker… for now
The Devin Booker injury was a tough blow, but the Suns should be fine for now. Phoenix is a team that has a very high floor. That means that they’re capable of keeping the train on the tracks no matter who is out of the lineup. Look, Booker is an All-NBA type of player, I get it. But even though he’s out, other guys will figure out how to step up.
They’ve survived without Chris Paul, they’ve survived without Deandre Ayton and they’ll be able to survive their current series with the Pelicans without Booker. Now if it moves on and the Mavericks beat the Jazz and all the sudden they’re playing Dallas without Booker, that’s a different story.
Against a very good team like the Mavs, you need to be all-hands on deck. New Orleans just isn’t there yet. The Pelicans are a very good offensive team and I like what they’ve been doing in this series by playing Jaxon Hayes and Jonas Valanciunas together, but they aren’t without their flaws.
Paul and Monty Williams are going to figure this new wrinkle out, and soon they’ll be isolating the Pels’ bigs and getting them in compromising situations. And the Suns will level up defensively once again. They’ll be able to get through this series, and they will want to do it as quickly as possible to get CP3 and Booker some rest.
I think Phoenix will step up and win the next four to end this series in five games even without Booker. Give the Pelicans and Willie Green a lot of credit for overcoming a bunch of obstacles like the Zion Williamson drama and their terrible start to the season. But they aren’t ready to knock off a team like the Suns in the playoffs even if they’re short-handed.
Scal’s best NBA point spread pick for Friday’s slate: Bucks -2.5 (-110)
I have no idea why the Bucks always seem to suck early in a playoff series, but they do. Games 1 and 2 were awful, but now is the perfect time to catch Milwaukee and buy-low because they’re about to go off. It was a great win for Chicago in Game 2, but this line seems off to me just a couple of nights after Milwaukee was a double digit favorite. It’s only a 90-minute drive for the Bucks down the highway to get here, so don’t give the Bulls too much credit for home court advantage. Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be a force in Game 3, and the Bucks are going to win and win big.
Be sure to check out our full game preview for Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls