The Spurs hold an overall record of 31-30, but they are 33-27-1 against the spread. San Antonio is coming off a close loss to the Miami Heat.
The Celtics stand at 33-30 overall and 31-32 against the spread. Boston is coming off a win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Here’s how sportsbooks have set the opening Spurs-Celtics odds.
NBA Odds: Spurs-Celtics Odds
Boston Celtics -4.5 (-110)
San Antonio Spurs +4.5 (-110)
Over 221 Points (-110)
Under 221 Points (-110)
Why The Spurs Could Cover The Spread
The Spurs have excelled on the road all year. They hold the best road spread record in the NBA, standing at 20-8-1 away from San Antonio, and they have covered in five straight in foreign arenas.
Gregg Popovich’s group has matched up very well to the Celtics in recent history, winning four of their last five contests. This includes a matchup this year where the Spurs toppled a fully healthy Boston squad as 4.5 point underdogs.
The Celtics will be missing a key piece tonight in Kemba Walker, who has been ruled out with an oblique injury. This should take some pressure off a San Antonio defense that has struggled to slow opposing guards this road trip.
The Spurs are a very mediocre team in almost every offensive statistic. They don’t run up the score (21st in scoring), shoot the ball particularly well (20th in field goal percentage, 21st in three-point percentage), or move the ball like we’ve seen the Spurs of the past do (15th in assists).
What San Antonio does do well is play at their pace and take care of the ball. As expected from Popovich coached teams, they refuse to turn the ball over, averaging the second least turnovers per game. They keep their composure on the road, and have only lost by more than 10 points away from home three times this season.
While the catalyst of the offense is DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs have plenty of depth on the scoring front. Seven Spurs are currently averaging double digit point totals per game.
DeRozan has been particularly good of late, averaging 29.7 points on 51% shooting in his last three contests. The Spurs will need him to have another efficient night to keep them in this one, as the NBA odds see them still as 4.5 point underdogs.
Despite the Spurs mediocre defensive numbers, they have multiple guys capable of being thorns in the sides of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown tonight.
Dejounte Murray is a borderline All-Defensive team player, and Lonnie Walker IV is growing every day as a defender. Keldon Johnson has also shown improvements as a perimeter guard.
The Spurs just need to force one of the Celtics main scorers in to an inefficient night, and they’ll have a great chance at stealing yet another upset win over Boston.
Why The Celtics Could Cover The Spread
The Celtics broke a three-game losing and cover streak against the Hornets on Wednesday thanks to an emphatic effort from their two top players.
Boston has seen much more success against the spread at TD Garden, amassing a spread record of 18-14 in Boston as opposed to 13-18 on the road.
The Celtics have been a frustrating team to bet all year. When Tatum and Brown are hot, they look nearly unstoppable. If not, Boston could fall to any team in the league. The Celtics have recorded wins against the Bucks, Clippers, and Nuggets, but have also lost to the Pistons, the Cavaliers, and the Kings.
So much of Boston’s success hinges on Tatum’s efficiency. When Tatum shoots below 45% from the field, the Celtics are only 10-18. When he tops 45%, they are 20-8.
The good news for Boston bettors tonight is that this should be a juicy matchup for their best player. San Antonio allows opponents to shoot 46.7% from the field, the 12th highest figure in the NBA. The Spurs have also been torched from three, allowing shooters to hit 37.4% of their threes, the 8th highest figure in the league.
Tatum attempts just under six mid-range shots per game, defined as between nine feet to 19 feet from the basket. Jaylen Brown is just below him at 5.2 of these attempts.
The Celtics need the majority of these attempts to go in or they have a tough time winning games, and the Spurs have struggled to stop them.
On the defensive end, the Celtics allow the 10th least points in the NBA, with their one weakness in their defense coming at the three-point line.
Boston allows opponents to shoot 37.1% from three, but San Antonio doesn’t have the personnel to take advantage of this. Only three Spurs shoot above the NBA average of 37% from deep, and the Spurs collectively have the ninth lowest three point percentage in the league.
The keys for Boston tonight are to win the battle of the mid-range shot and get Jayson Tatum going early against a defense he should feast against.
Final Spurs-Celtics Prediction & Pick
When so much of your success lies on one players shoulders, it’s hard to ride with the Celtics. If Tatum goes cold, the Celtics might not have enough to get past a team that’s had their number of late. Combine that with the fact that Boston is missing a key scorer and the Spurs have thrived on the road, and I’m heavily inclined to take San Antonio with the points here. The NBA odds have them as the 4.5 point underdogs and it’s hard to put a lot of stock into Boston. The Celtics might scratch out a win, but this should be a close one regardless. I’ll play the spread to avoid heartbreak if the C’s pull it out.
FINAL PICK AND PREDICTION: BOS 110, SAS 109 (SAN ANTONIO +4.5)