OffshoreInsiders.com Senior Writer Vegas Matt previews the Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz.
The Boston Celtics (42-15) and Utah Jazz (32-28) both made big moves prior to the NBA trade deadline last week with an eye on the future, although how each team plays the rest of the regular season will likely dictate whether they are viewed as winners or losers. Of course only one of them can win this game on Monday night, and the oddsmakers obviously think the Celtics (-4) are in much better shape than a Utah team that remains in disarray.
Not only did the Jazz send All-Star point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey in a blockbuster trade last week for rookie Derrick Favors and point guard Devin Harris, but they are still dealing with the sudden departure of head coach Jerry Sloan. The team was once as high as third place in the Western Conference playoff race but has since fallen out of the mix to the ninth spot after dropping 15 of its last 20 games, going 6-14 against the spread during that stretch.
Meanwhile, many experts were surprised when Boston traded center Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for forward Jeff Green, who the Celtics had originally drafted in 2007 before dealing him for Ray Allen. Despite recovering from a knee injury, Perkins was seen as one of the major cogs inside that gave Boston a significant advantage over most teams in the Eastern Conference and helped the Celtics match up better than anybody against the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, they simply have another wing player in Green who can score.
Green scored seven points off the bench in a 99-92 road win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, his first action with his new team. Center Nenad Krstic was also part of the deal with the Thunder and contributed nine points and six rebounds as the team's starting center. Boston failed to cover the 8-point spread and has not beaten the line in two straight games.
The Celtics crushed Utah 110-86 in the last meeting between the teams back on January 21 behind 21 points from Kevin Garnett and 20 from Paul Pierce. Jazz center Al Jefferson was traded for Garnett just prior to the 2007-08 season and had a terrible game against his former team, scoring just seven points on 1 of 11 shooting. Jefferson has played much better recently though, averaging 27 points in the last five games. Utah has covered four of the past six meetings with the OVER cashing in the last three games between the teams.
Top expert pick on this game: It's a very strong card led by on ESPN tonight as Kansas State takes on Texas. That is a Wise Guy. Also get two Major plays from the NBA. Center of the Handicapping Universe is way ahead for the season in both and the gap gets a bit wider tonight. Boston vs. Utah is among the Majors.