Two NBA Games Worth Gambling On Sunday, December 4

Okay, NFL Week 13 is must-see TV but the NBA has some intriguing matchups Sunday. Two of the best players in the world go at it — Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum — in a rematch from the first round of last season’s Eastern Conference playoffs.

Celtics-Nets is my first NBA look Sunday but I also found time to handicap and get some money down on the Bulls-Kings matchup. Below, is my analysis and best bets for both games.

Boston Celtics (18-5) at Brooklyn Nets (13-11)

Brooklyn hosts Boston at Barclays Center for their 2022-23 regular-season series opener with the tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m. ET Sunday.

The Celtics were 7-1 straight up (SU) and 5-2-1 against the spread (ATS) vs. the Nets last season including seven straight wins and a Boston sweep in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

With that in mind, the Celtics as just 3-point favorites feel low, and …

The Nets feel like the ‘sharp’ side

Reverse line movement in the betting market headed toward Brooklyn. According to VSIN, nearly two-thirds of the action at DraftKings Sportsbook is on the Celtics.

But, they’ve been lowered from -3.5 down to -3 at the time of writing. In fact, Pinnacle Sportsbook (Pinny) has Boston as only a 2.5-point favorite currently.

Pinny is considered one of the sharpest shops in towns because it books the largest sports bets. Either way, the line moving against public action is suspicious, to say the least.

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant handles the ball against the Boston Celtics during Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant handles the ball against the Boston Celtics during Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

Speaking of “suspicious,” why did the Celtics open as just 3.5-point favorites in the first place? They are easily the best team in the NBA thus far and Boston All-Star Jayson Tatum is a frontrunner for NBA MVP.

However, we must listen to the market on this one. The Nets have as much talent, and dysfunction, as any roster in the Association and …

Boston’s sweep of Brooklyn in last season’s playoffs is misleading

These teams split the “four factors” in last season’s Celtics-Nets first-round playoff series. The Celtics stole Game 1 with a miracle game-winning layup at the buzz and the Nets were leading Game 2 in Boston before losing the fourth quarter 29-17.

Furthermore …

This is the best version of the Nets

Even though Brooklyn wing Ben Simmons has already been ruled out with an injury, the Nets are low-key loaded with talent. Nets 3-Point Contest champion, SF Joe Harris, missed most of last season and wing T.J. Warren made his Brooklyn debut Friday vs. the Raptors.

The addition of Harris gives the Nets four of the best 15 3-point shooters in the league: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, and Harris.

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant hugging it out during the game against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant hugging it out during the game against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Warren was playing at an All-NBA-caliber in the Orlando bubble. He’s a career 50.7% shooter, averages 15.5 points per game (PPG), and will be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate if he can stay healthy.

Also, KD has been ballin’ this season and he should be up for his matchup with Tatum Sunday. Durant is 10th in true shooting rate (66.5%), second in Win Shares, sixth in PPG (29.8), and has played the most minutes in the league (882).

Finally, Celtics guard, and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart is “questionable” to play. Smart would be a massive loss for Boston in this spot, especially with all the offensive firepower in Brooklyn.

NBA Best Bet #1: Nets +3 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +2

The Brooklyn Nets' odds vs. the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Sunday, December 4th at 9:45 a.m. ET.
The Brooklyn Nets’ odds vs. the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Sunday, December 4th at 9:45 a.m. ET.

Chicago Bulls (9-13) at Sacramento Kings (12-9)

Sactown has been one of the surprises early in the NBA season. The Kings are sixth in net rating (nRTG) with the third-best offensive rating and have won back-to-back (B2B) by 20-plus points.

Chicago on the other hand has regressed from last season. The Bulls are 20th in nRTG with the 23rd-ranked offensive rating and 2-3 SU and ATS in their current six-game road trip.

Most of the ATS trends favor the Kings in this spot as do the advanced analytics. Yet Sacramento is just a 2.5-point favorite. Hmmm …

Bulls’ revamped starting lineup

For whatever reason, it took Chicago coach Billy Donovan until December to replace PG Ayo Dosunmu and PF Patrick Williams with PG Alex Caruso and F Javonte Green in the starting 5.

Chicago Bulls' Alex Caruso and Javonte Green battle for a rebound with Boston Celtics big Al Horford during the 1st half at United Center in Chicago.
Chicago Bulls’ Alex Caruso and Javonte Green battle for a rebound with Boston Celtics big Al Horford during the 1st half at United Center in Chicago. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Caruso leads the Bulls in adjusted on/off nRTG (+14.8), per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), and Green is third (+10.3). Dosunmu grades in the third percentile of PGs in adjusted on/off nRTG (-18.8) while Williams grades in the fourth percentile of forwards (-16.8).

Furthermore, Caruso is criminally underrated. He’s a perfect glue guy that does a bunch of things well and doesn’t need plays ran for him to contribute. Caruso is a little turnover-prone but the Kings aren’t an aggressive defense.

Actually …

Sactown’s defense is soft in areas Chicago attacks

Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan attempts a lot of inefficient long 2-pointers. Chicago takes the third-highest volume of mid-range jumpers, per CTG. If DeRozan is cooking in the mid-range, the Bulls will get open 3-point looks.

The Kings are 24th in defensive effective field goal shooting and have a soft interior defense. No one is afraid of attacking Sacramento’s big, Domantas Sabonis, and Sactown is 25th in paint PPG allowed.

Finally …

Bulls are better in transition

Both teams have a fast pace — Chicago ranks ninth in Pace, Sacramento ranks fifth — but the Bulls have much better efficiency in transition.

Chicago is 12th in fastbreak offensive efficiency and Sactown is 24th. However, the Bulls have the best fastbreak defensive efficiency. And Chicago’s defense improves in all aspects with Caruso in the starting 5.

NBA Best Bet #2: Bulls +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to pick ’em

The Chicago Bulls' odds at Sacramento Kings from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Sunday, December 4th at 10:35 a.m. ET.
The Chicago Bulls’ odds at Sacramento Kings from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Sunday, December 4th at 10:35 a.m. ET.

FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark

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Written by Geoff Clark

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