Nets vs. Celtics: The best player prop bets for Nov. 24
Wednesday will feature a marquee matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics. The Nets lead the East at 13-5. The Celtics, at 10-8, are rediscovering their defensive identity.
Will that vaunted defense hold up against two of the league's best on-ball creators in Kevin Durant and James Harden?
Nets vs. Celtics will tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Below, we make our picks for the three best player prop bets for the game.
Thu, November 25 2021, 12:30 AM
Kevin Durant: Over/Under 27.5 points
What Durant is doing shouldn’t be possible. He suffered an Achilles rupture, one of the worst injuries in sports, and after missing an entire year of basketball, he has come back and gotten better. This was already a two-time Finals MVP we’re talking about.
Any loss in athleticism that Durant has experienced has been completely mitigated by his impossibly long frame and all-time on-ball creation ability. So while Durant is getting to the rim less than ever before in his career (just 17% of his possessions this season, per Cleaning the Glass), he’s somehow more efficient than he’s ever been.
Durant is shooting 57% from mid range on a gigantic volume. The shot that every NBA defense now is willing to concede is good for 1.14 points per possession for KD.
Giving up a look that efficient to most players means you lose, but you don’t have better options with Durant.
At the rim, he’s scoring on 77% of his attempts and 42% from three. Teams are literally helpless from the moment Durant touches the ball. The only bad game Durant has had this season came against Golden State, who played a triangle-and-two defense for much of the game, something the Celtics have not proven they’re capable of doing.
James Harden: Over/Under 22.5 points
It felt like the whole basketball world was writing Harden’s obituary at the beginning of this season. Not only was he apparently no longer physically capable of being a primary creator, but the new foul rules had also sapped his only ability to effectively generate offense in the half court.
Suddenly, though, Harden is back above the 90th percentile in points per shot attempt, usage, and assist percentage, per Cleaning the Glass. Oh, and at a 17.7% shooting foul percentage, he’s drawing more shooting fouls on a per-shot basis than he has since 2019-20 in Houston.
Clearly, Harden needed time to adjust to the new rules, but he has adjusted now, and he’s looking awfully comfortable out there on offense.
Boston has a top-five defense, but it’s predicated on opposing offenses not being capable of generating good looks attacking one-on-one.
The Nets face a switching defense every time they practice, and Harden is arguably the best isolation scorer in the NBA. He averages 6.8 isolation attempts per game, second most in the NBA, and he scores a blistering 1.14 points per possession on them.
A switch-everything defense like the Celtics run is not going to slow down Harden one bit.
James Harden: Over/Under 8.5 assists
Now by that same token, the Celtics defense will go a long way to encouraging that one-on-one basketball, which typically means fewer assists.
Joe Harris and Nic Claxton are both still out, and both are Harden’s primary pass recipients outside of Durant.
Harden has only had more than eight assists twice in the last five games, once against the injury-ravaged Cleveland Cavaliers and the other time against the 6-11 Oklahoma City Thunder.
While the Celtics defense might not slow down Harden or Durant much as scorers, it will more than likely take away a lot of Harden’s pick-and-roll play, which is his bread and butter for generating assists in the half court.