Boston - Minnesota
It’s a measure of how bad the NBA’s Atlantic Division is that the Boston Celtics sit in first place with an 11-14 record. It’s also an unexpected twist for a franchise that was counting on a down season to provide the draft picks next summer it needs to re-build.
Credit rookie coach Brad Stevens for finding his feet in the league a little sooner than expected. The Celtics have the fifth-best defence, giving up just 95.7 points per game and over the last month. They’ve also raised their offensive efficiency with more players able to contribute. With a 9-7 mark against Eastern Conference opponents, they’ve taken full advantage of weak opposition.
Against the West, it’s a different story however and Boston will have to contend with the offense of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. The T-Wolves are fourth in scoring (105.5) and sixth in assists (45.2) and Kevin Love figures to be a tough cover for Brendan Bass.
Since Minnesota beat Boston 106-88 last month, they’ve only gone 5-8 but the Celtics are still masked by the quality of their foes. The Timberwolves are -1.5 on the handicap at 1.88 and on current form, look under the total points line of 199.5 at 1.87.
LA Clippers – San Antonio
Two Western powers clash in Los Angeles with the Clippers returning from an extended road swing to host the San Antonio Spurs. Both sides are averaging 103 points but the Spurs give up six less and are a superlative 10-2 on the road.
Their bench is also bringing a league-best 46.1 points per game with the Clippers adding just 32. With San Antonio on a four-game winning streak and with two days rest, look at them on the -2.5 handicap and to push the total points over 203.5, available at 1.96.
Back Minnesota over Boston at -1.5 on the handicap at 1.88
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