- At 12-6 against the spread at TD Garden this season, Boston hosts a Nets team that is playing the second leg of a road back-to-back tonight.
Three at 3 is kicking off the week with an all-favorites slate of bets for Monday night's NBA games.
1. Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics (-10)
7:30 pm ET
The Nets have been on a roll as of late, having won and covered in three straight games, and having beat the spread by an average of 8.3 points in those contests. But Brooklyn will be on the second leg of a road back-to-back tonight in Boston, a clearly unfavorable spot against one of the league's most talented teams. The Celtics are 12-6 against the spread at the TD Garden this season, and have cleaned up recently when playing middle-of-the-road teams like Brooklyn at home. Boston beat Charlotte 119-103 as a 7.5-point favorite on Dec. 23, defeated Minnesota 115-102 as a six-point favorite last Wednesday and blew past Dallas 114-93 as a four-point favorite on Friday. Brad Stevens has the Celtics coming out hot against teams they know they should beat at home and, with Kyrie Irving considered probable to play after missing two consecutive games with an eye injury, Boston should continue that pattern tonight.
Pick: Celtics -10
2. Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans (-5)
The Grizzlies and Pelicans have already played at the Smoothie King Center once this season, when Memphis took down New Orleans 107-103 as a five-point road underdog a month ago on Dec. 7. The Pelicans held a 100-92 lead more than midway into the fourth quarter, before proceeding to miss their final eight shots from the field, including six three-pointers. In fact, New Orleans was cold from deep all night, making only seven of 29 threes on the evening (24.1%). "Credit our guys for digging deep and getting some stops, making them take tough shots," Memphis's Kyle Anderson said after the game. JaMychal Green led the Grizzlies with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
The advantages that the Grizzlies found in that game, however, are unlikely to resurface for tonight's contest. Certainly do credit the Grizz for their perimeter D against New Orleans last month, but it hasn't been a strength of theirs over the course of the season: Memphis ranks 21st in the NBA with an opposing three-point percentage of 36.2%. Meanwhile, the Pelicans are typically a strong shooting team from deep (35.7%, eighth in NBA). And while Green's 24 against New Orleans were a season high, and his fifth straight game scoring in double digits at the time, he's now scored over eight points only once in his last six games. New Orleans would have won and covered against Memphis last month if not for a late offensive breakdown, and they should avenge that defeat tonight.
Pick: Pelicans -5
3. Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks (-8)
As expected, the Lakers are a significantly worse basketball team without LeBron James on the floor. Since James went down with a groin injury in a Christmas Day victory over the Warriors, Los Angeles is 1-5 (4-2 against the spread), and only has a one-game cushion over the Jazz for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. (Sacramento and Minnesota aren't far behind.) A lower-back injury to Kyle Kuzma has hobbled the Lakers even further. Kuzma played at least 40 minutes in each of the first three games LA played without LeBron, but suffered a back contusion last Wednesday in a 107-100 home loss to the Thunder (OKC -5.5). With Kuzma out, the Lakers then lost 119-112 at home to the lowly Knicks on Friday (NYK +5.5) and got blown out in Minnesota 108-86 on Sunday (MIN -8). Kuzma is considered questionable for tonight's game.
With no LeBron and, at best, a hobbled Kuzma, the Lakers will struggle in Dallas tonight against a Mavericks team that's back at home after a four-game road trip. When Los Angeles beat Dallas at home 114-103 on November 30 (LAL -4), James and Kuzma combined for 43 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic, on the other hand, had a career-low six points. Expect the rookie to play much better tonight in a big Dallas win.
Pick: Mavericks -8
Overall Record: 92-73-4